Constantly you hear fans complaining about a band’s new sound, how they wish they would return to an older style, and the like. When one of your favorite childhood bands releases a new album, it’s really difficult to not be subjective. This is exactly how I felt during the first couple of times I listened to Good Charlotte’s “Youth Authority.” I missed the blatant angst and the darker themes of their earlier days, the times when my love for them was at its all-time-high. However, during my third listen through, I realized (and what many older fans should too) I had to step away from what I wanted this new record to sound like and find a way to appreciate what’s been presented to us.
The intro track, “Life Changes,” sets the scene for recurring themes of the album: nostalgia and, well, life changes. It also sets the tone for the album and shows listeners that this is infact a pop-punk album, no matter how many pop-influences can be found throughout the rest of the album. Look at it this way: it’s been six years since the band’s last release. The music industry changes day by day, so even with older bands of the early 2000s coming back to make records again or just continuing with their band’s journey, their sound is going to reflect what’s current in their scene. In Good Charlotte’s case, this album is the pillar of what pop-punk currently is today.
The lyrics center around an almost autobiographical reflection on how the scene treats the band and also what they stand for. “40 oz. Dream” is an upbeat track that creates a satire on how the punk scene has changed from when they first started. On another track, aptly titled “The Outfield,” Joel Madden assuringly sings “We were the young and hopeless / We were the broken youth / You’re not the only one they used / I was in the outfield too.” The song gives a nod to their sophomore album, which is the one that brought them a tremendous amount of lifelong fans. It reflects and reminds listeners that they remember where they came from; they haven’t forgotten. While many may be facing similar challenges as they grow up and try to make a name for themselves, this album will serve as a reminder that those struggles won’t be forgotten, but they will certainly be overcome.
Good Charlotte is always known for pushing the boundaries of the pop-punk genre, to which they definitely succeeded with this album. The tenth track, “Car Full of People,” reminds me of something that could very well be played on the radio today. Its acoustic guitar creates a very pop-sounding melody throughout the first half of the song. By the time the second chorus hits, the electric guitars kick in to up the punk level in the song. It is completely different from what fans usually can expect from the band? Absolutely. However, it’s pop flare shouldn’t scare fans away. Besides, is there anyone who just listens to GC for their slower tempo tracks?
Some stand out tracks for me, a long time fan of the band, are “Makeshift Love,” “War,” and “Rise.” The latter song, a bonus track on the album, might even be my favorite one off the whole record. It’s a positive song that focuses on making it through rough times, no matter what. Completely with rhythmic guitars and gang vocals, it leaves listeners with the anthem to sing a long to.
While the ballads slightly weigh down the album, there are still tracks of pop-punk gold. The heart of this album is honest truths. More than half the album has songs that will make you wish you were moshing with your best friends or will have you singing at the top of your lungs in the car. Don’t be quick to write it off. Let it sit with you, let the songs run through your a head for a few hours. It doesn’t matter what stage of life you are in, or whether you’re considered the underdog — “Youth Authority” will make you feel like a young kid jamming to their favorite songs and as though you can take on anything.
REVIEW BY LEAH DICKERMAN