Good Charlotte – The Chronicles of Life and Death

Before I go any further, I must be honest with you, dear reader: I am in college, and I am a Good Charlotte fan (subtract 40 scene points). I know I’m too old, but I can’t help it. At the age of fourteen, they won over my heart with their earnestness, their work ethic, and their indisputable adorableness. They dressed kind of punky, played catchy pop rock, owned the stage live, and were incredibly nice people. Their music was always a mixed bag, with genuinely good rock songs like “Motivation Proclamation” and inane yet endearing ditties like “Little Things.” The same can be said of their latest, The Chronicles of Life and Death.

Creating and recording one of the worst songs ever made is truly something to be proud of, despite what others may say. There is a point when a song crosses the line from “Linkin Park bad” to “Safety Dance bad;” the song becomes an enjoyably terrible novelty. Good Charlotte’s “I Just Wanna Live” is one such song. Lyrically insipid, tastelessly tacky, hopelessly out of place, and blatantly unoriginal, you can’t help but dance and sing-along in a silly falsetto voice. Good Charlotte has secured their spot on a future installment of VH1’s Awesomely Bad Songs, and I can only wish for an awesomely bad video.

However Chronicles… holds some of their best work in addition to their worst. First, ignore the puzzling introduction by the Japanese choir, it will only irritate and confuse you. The epic feel the band was trying for is lost in the transition into the title track, a typical but perfected pop rocker. This song, along with the next two “Walk Away (Maybe)” and “S.O.S.” complete the album’s triple attack of powerful pop rock. Good Charlotte is one of the best at what they do; these songs are proof. If you disagree, go listen to some Simple Plan or Never Heard of It. You will come to the same conclusion.

Chronicles… is a step in the right direction career wise, but it shows a conflicted band trying to do too much at once. Experimentation, like the cello on “Predictable,” is incompatible with the poppier tracks. The band falls flat when they try too hard. The vocals on “The Truth” and “We Believe” are strained and sincere, but the lyrics do not match this effort. Lyrics have never been Good Charlotte’s strong point, though they can work well when the rest of the song is simple, catchy, and melodic. This is why they emerge victorious on “The World Is Black” and “Mountain.” An exception is the moody “In This World (Murder),” the greatest departure and the best track on the album. There is more good than bad on Chronicles…, as this band begins to explore the world outside of pop punk. This album shows potential for this band to mature and become more consistent. They have the heart, they just need time.

(Epic Records)

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