Introducing Incubus videos on MTV tends to make people wary of your punk credibility, which is a shame. Good Charlotte may be the best punk band alive and under 25—not despite the synthetic sounds and crass lyrics that fill their new The Young and the Hopeless, but because of them. Too many young punks are too strident in their theology to incorporate pop influences or too “poetic” to just blurt out the dumb shit that’s clogging their naive and oversensitive minds. For Good Charlotte, these are not issues.
The Mercury Rev-style symphonic swooping in “A New Beginning” would be ironic if the keyboards went away elsewhere, but they also glossy up tearjerkers like “Say Anything” and “Wondering” as if Benji—the Noel Gallagher of this twin-led band—wasn’t afraid of hardcore hardheads yelling out “Third Eye Blind!” at the Warped Tour. “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” cops Burundi drums from “Lust for Life,” Marion Barry jokes from Chris Rock, and dub-echo effects from Def Leppard’s Hysteria. If you like all three, the song will make you crap your drawers. Plus (dependin’ on your appreciation of snooze/drone/vacuum cleaner rock), “My Bloody Valentine” starts out like the best MBV song ever.
“Riot Girl” is the flipside to Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8ter Boi”—Joel (the Liam of the band) fawns over a “hood rat who needs an attitude adjustment” and acknowledges that boys get weak at the knees when a girl likes underground bands. There are some worthless us-vs.-them rants against preppies, too, but better that sort of crap from adolescent-sounding punks than from well-read grown-ups like Le Tigre: The young ‘uns still have time to outgrow their lack of sympathy. Good Charlotte are halfway there already—*NSync-er Chris Fitzpatrick, who appears (along with Mike Watt!) in the video for “Lifestyles,” has supposedly inspired Benji to “think twice about people in general.” If you’re not too much of a kneejerk rebel-rebel to appreciate the sentiment, The Young and the Hopeless will make your compromised sellout punkass day as much as it does mine.