Review by Dom Vigil
Good Charlotte’s new album, Youth Authority feels like growing up, but thankfully, growing up doesn’t always mean letting go of the things you love. From the introspective opening track, “Life Changes,” where the band tackles the changes they’ve endured over the years and their struggle to continue forward to “Keep Swingin,” which chronicles their desire to do what they love, Youth Authority may feel a bit more serious lyrically, but you can still have fun when listening to it. In fact, I think that’s just what Good Charlotte would want.
That same high energy, guitar driven sound that Good Charlotte fans have come to know and expect from the band is very present in the first song, even as it tells of their “Life Changes.” Right of the bat, these themes of finding oneself, growing up and nostalgia are a driving force behind Youth Authority, and it only gets stronger as the album continues forward. Just listen to “40 oz. Dream.” The fact of the matter is, things have changed since Good Charlotte first formed twenty years ago - you can’t expect them not to address that, but you can expect them to do so in their trademark fashion. “40 oz. Dream” is catchy and memorable, a track you’ll be humming long after it’s over, and while the lyrical content may not be quite as serious as “Life Changes” or “Makeshift Love,” it still hits just as hard.
Things do slow down and become a bit more serious on the following anthemic track, “Life Can’t Get Much Better.” Then comes “Keep Swingin’,” which is easily a high point on Youth Authority. “Keep Swingin’” tackles critics and “selling out,” in lines like “We keep swingin’/And we all just go down saying and playing what we think.” The perfect addition to the track are guest vocals from Sleeping With Sirens’ frontman Kellin Quinn. While it may seem like an unusual combination, it makes total sense, considering the lyrical content of the song and the fact that Sleeping With Sirens could easily be considered one of the most popular bands of the current Warped Tour age demographic, as Good Charlotte was and still is for millennials. Sticking to this theme, the following song, “Reason To Stay” features emotional guest vocals from Biffy Clyro’s Simon Neil. If you’re unfamiliar if Biffy Clyro, the Scottish band is not only massive overseas, but just released a new album only a week before Youth Authority. Needless to say, Good Charlotte are not only giving listeners a taste of nostalgia, but are also looking toward the future by featuring two very prominent and current artists.
Youth Authority starts with a bang, but after “Keep Swingin’” and “Reason To Stay,” things begin to wind down. The second half of the album unfortunately does not seem to hit quite as hard as the first half, but that’s not to say that it’s without its strong moments. “Stray Dogs,” for instance, while slow is heartbreaking and full of longing, a nice change of pace from the songs that come before it. Then “The Outfield” reminds us just why we fell in love with Good Charlotte to begin with, making references to their fan-favorite album, The Young and The Hopeless in lines like, “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.” This track is full of self-searching and reflection on the band’s past.
The great thing about Youth Authority is that Good Charlotte don’t pretend to be the same band that they were when they first started out. The honest lyricism on the album coupled with hard hitting guitar work and catchy choruses will keep die-hard fans satisfied while also hopefully giving them something a bit deeper and more introspective to dive into than they initially expected. What better way to keep fans and yourself satisfied than being honest? Good Charlotte have it totally figured out on this release, but that’s not to say that they haven’t all along.
Listen to "Life Changes"
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