Aging pop-punk rebels Good Charlotte are back (again) with the 2nd album of their mid-2010s renaissance Generation Rx. The Waldorf, MD natives rose to stardom in 2000 with their self-titled debut and then to superstardom with their second album The Young and the Hopeless which featured their massive hit “The Anthem”. Being from the DC area and 13 at the time of their debut album, I could not have been a bigger fan. Their mix of pop-punk, rapping, and lyrics about not fitting in but not giving a fuck spoke to my teenage angst.
I even enjoyed their comeback in 2016 with the surprisingly enjoyable Youth Authority. Despite it being slightly overproduced and artificial, it showed that they still had that silly, irrelevant Vans Warped Tour style and their fun was infectious. They stuck to what they were good at, and it was a welcome, self-aware victory lap for the group who hadn’t released music in over 6 years.
Unfortunately, Generation Rx has replaced all the fun with super serious, melodramatic garbage. This new album is a complete trainwreck. It would’ve been cringe-worthy and cliche in 2002. In 2018, it’s stupefying why they would try to make a record like this. It’s forced, it’s uncomfortable, and they are taking themselves way too seriously. It’s like they missed the past 15 years and took every good idea from their heyday, made them bad, put it in a blender, and poured this massive pile of shit into my ears. Seriously, it sounds like they tried to make a Linkin Park/Evanescence hybrid album but as Good Charlotte in 2018.
Let’s start with the lyrics, sweet merciful Jesus the lyrics on these songs, they sound like they were ripped straight from a 14-year-old angsty teen’s diary. Here are a few examples:
“Born on a lonely planet full of broken dreams
Where no one understands me”
“Alone inside, I wish that I could die”
“Why do we hurt each other? We don’t hear the words from one another”
“God just leaves the room, when I turn on my TV”
They oscillate between sounding like whiny teenagers or sanctimonious assholes. What’s worse is all of these lyrics are sung without a hint of irony.
“Generation RX” and “Leech” sound like Linkin Park rejects from Hybrid Theory. The electronic build up and nu-metal guitars do not fit GC’s style at all, not even a little bit. “Better Demons”, “Prayers” are lukewarm epic alt-rock anthems. In fact, almost every song has a “build” that climaxes in a deeply unsatisfying sing-along, complete with church choirs, orchestral strings, and WHOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAs.
“Actual Pain” (yes that’s the actual name of the song) would be decent if it weren’t for the god-awful lyrics. At least it doesn’t have nu-metal influences and is it at least somewhat upbeat. It’s not good per se, it’s just not as bad. The lead single off the record, “Prayers”, is another overproduced mess of a pop/emo song with more lyrics like “Why do we hurt each other? We don’t hear the words from one another”. A line that’s the equivalent of saying “war is bad” then squinting into the distance like it’s some sort of profound statement. “Cold Song” is the ballad of the record and while it’s not as offensive as the rest of the songs it’s just so uninspired and devoid of the personality that once made Good Charlotte stand out. The only non-hatable song on the whole project is “California (The Way I Say I Love You)”, which sounds like a Yellowcard ballad but at least it doesn’t have this life is super serious maaaaaan, my pain is real vibe to it.
It’s baffling why the fun-loving, quirky Good Charlotte we used to know made a screamo/nu-metal album when they’ve never dabbled in this style of music. Even more baffling because both of those styles of music died out completely in 2007. This album lacks purpose, personality, or dignity.
Youth Authority harkened back to their glory days and it was a fun reminder of who they were. Generation Rx is uninspired drek that reeks of desperation. Desperate to connect with the youth of today, desperate to recreate the magic of the early 2000s pop punk/rap/rock hybridization that first propelled them to the mainstream, desperate to be cool and edgy. The only problem is, It’s hard to be edgy when there is no edge left.