Errant Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

Good Charlotte were charming in their youth, but sound increasingly mean and hopeless now

Did you hear? Benji Madden is engaged to Sophie Monk, and Joel Madden dumped Hilary Duff after two years and is now with Nicole Richie. You know what they say about twins! They always have more fun, and the Madden brothers are the pop-punk version of the Olsens. Ignoring the mishaps—like Joel caught on tape slapping a female photographer earlier this month—they should be having the time of their lives, right? So why does Good Charlotte sound so depressed on Good Morning Revival?

Lyrically, first single "The River" channels "Welcome to the Jungle," just without the "Sha-na-na-na knees." Musically, though, Good Charlotte borrow every emo chord progression and guitar riff of the last three years. Joel even contorts his voice to sound like Davey Havok's from A.F.I. This is distant territory from 2002's career-making The Young and the Hopeless; no longer young, the boys just sound hopeless. Second single "Keep Your Hands Off My Girl" namedrops Dior bags and Louis Vuitton while indulging an ugly misogynist streak: "I got a model, 26/But she stays in her place." This isn't new territory for Good Charlotte—one of their first hits featured the lyrics "Girls don't like boys/Girls like cars and money." But you used to be able to ignore it because it sounded like kids making a tasteless joke. Maybe they'd grow up. With their new emo-radio-hit sound, though, they sound angry and hateful. The cute punks grew up to be really scary jerks. Relationship advice? "The only way y'all ever keep her in your hands/Is breaking apart her heart."

Good Charlotte's sexism isn't the insidious kind of alienation Jessica Hopper attributed to emo, but a darker, disturbing sentiment that indicates something is amiss in paradise. It's hard not to see a connection between Good Charlotte's public life and the title track: "I'm tired/Tired of running/Tired/Tired of waking/Tired . . . Keep your sadness alive." Hilary Duff got out at a good time.

 
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