GENERATION RX is Good Charlotte's seventh album and consists of 9 typically GC tracks; pop-punk high in melody. Good Charlotte are one of the few alternative bands to have mainstream success, with top 10 selling albums and more than 11 million album sales, so it's not surprising to hear that trademark sound feature on the new release. In December 2017, Good Charlotte performed 'Awful Things' during Lil Peep’s memorial at the request of his mother. Upon returning home, many heavy thoughts circulated, and one January day, Benji simply said, “I feel like we should make a record.”
Inspiration comes as usual from the everyday, from social media to drug use - Rx meaning medical prescription - "the title came from the fact our generation was the first one to have so many options to kill pain". Themes are heavily biased around pain, suffering and how we deal with this - "a world anesthetized and numbed by quick chemical fixes, social media obsession, and pervasive tragedy". Subject matter includes mental health, 'Actual Pain' is about mental or emotional ill-health as "real" pain, 'Generation Rx' is a reflection on mental health in the music industry, and 'Prayers' asks simply why our prayers aren't being heard.
The vocals are unbelievably clean and harmonious, acoustic guitars and voice effects add texture, and the piano adds a touch of elegance in a maturer album, borne of the experience and wisdom of 20 odd years in the industry. The 30-minute album features a range of upbeat, catchy and pop-like tracks, the slow-burner title-track, and more sensitive or emotional tracks like 'Prayers', with a steady clap-along beat, soaring chorus and lush instrumental, and semi-orchestral 'Cold Song'.
Choruses skyrocket, with infectious melodies, while the lyrics beseech us to examine our psyche. Electronic wizardry lights up 'Shadowboxer ' with vocal effects and screaming vocals teemed with an immensely catchy hook which smacks you in the face. The haunting intro to 'Self Help' creates an atmospheric ambience before the addictive melody typical of GC kicks in.
Stand out tracks for me are 'Better Demons' and 'Leech'. 'Better Demons' is thought-provoking and starts with spoken word, followed by wondrous chugging guitars. 'Leech' featuring Architects' Sam Carter is dark and angry, a heavy edge to it, an anthemic sound to which the choir adds an eeriness which is sublime, and you almost feel the pain dripping from the music.
This is undoubtedly Good Charlotte from the first bar and their appeal hasn’t waned over 20 plus years, despite a hiatus or two, so I'm confident fans will love the new album from this "voice of an era", but can they continue to be a voice for the tortured youth? For my money, yes they can, for now.
The album is thoroughly enjoyable and deserves to be heard, with plenty of chunky riffs and a little sniff of acoustic to delight your ear-holes. FFO Greenday, Bullet For My Valentine, Linkin Park.
Leech feat. Sam Carter
California (The Way I Say I Love You)
Joel Madden - vocals
Benji Madden - guitars
Billy Martin - guitars
Paul Thomas - bass
Dean Butterworth - drums