Written By Simon Chisholm
Late 2010 saw Good Charlotte release their fifth album. After 10 years, four albums, scandals and harsh critics, the boys have returned just as strong as ever. They are appreciative of their fans, positive, and ready to do what they do, be themselves and play music. Good Charlotte are giving it all they have, from the heart. This is ‘Cardiology’.
The first thing that strikes me about this release is the whopping 15 tracks! I’ve become used to the disappointment in checking a track listing and finding it very short. Pop releases usually sport 10-12 tracks these days, so I got quite excited to find that my money bought more than 30 minutes of entertainment.
Overall ‘Cardiology’ is a good listen start to finish. The boys have managed to retain some of their original punk sound. The tone of the album overall is up beat and fun. The sing-a-long choruses make for a good time.
The songs range in tone, from up-beat, dancey party themes to melancholy and nostalgic pieces. The album seems to be made up of odes to old times including family, their hometown, relationships, love and loss, and friendships, with hints at life before fame. The rhythms and melodies are married well to craft a serried of catchy, well-crafted songs.
The lyrics are motivational, with a hint of protest against social convention, also including relationships, and use pop culture references. The motivational and supportive lyrics could stem from Benji’s ‘Posi’ outlook on life. Check out his Twitter feed, it’s worth a look (http://twitter.com/benjaminmadden). The lyrics are not the most inspired, but they don’t need to be, punk is all about a good time and this album will have to singing and dancing.
The vocals are definitely the focal point of the songs, and the melodies are up-beat and catchy. Joel uses his trademark nasal, ‘lazy’ vocal style. His style annunciates and draws out sibilant sounds (‘S’ sounds) while making the delivery sound forceful. The drums have a lot of presence in this album and make use of some inventive pop rhythms. The guitars make use of pumping power chords and, at times, melodic riffs (‘Standing Ovation’). There is a fun guitar solo in ‘Like It’s Her Birthday’. The bass successfully sits in the pocket and holds down the groove. With each new release, we have seen an increase in the use of synthesised sounds and this album is no exception, having the synthesised songs act in a supporting role rather than lead.
While all of the songs have very much the same song structure, that can be overlooked, as each song can be enjoyed in it’s own way.
I like to read the album notes, and besides the lyrics, I like to read to writing credits. On ‘Cardiology’ I find that all of the songs are credited to Joel and Benji Madden (with additional writers sometimes credited for each song), which makes me confused as to how the other three band members are involved in the writing process.
I tried to make a list of standout tracks but ended up writing down almost the entire track listing. Instead, while I enjoy the whole album, here a few notable tracks I enjoy: ‘Let The Music Play’, ‘Standing Ovation’, ‘1979’, ‘Right Where I Belong’, ‘There She Goes’, and ‘Like Its Her Birthday’.
Some other elements I took note of: there is a very haunting 90’s pop feel in ‘Harlow’s Song (Can’t Dream Without You)’; ‘Cardiology’ has a nice use of vocal harmonies which seemed like a challenge for the Madden boys, but they pulled it off.
I feel that ‘Cardiology’ is a great addition to any Good Charlotte collection. It doesn’t have the same raw punk quality of their self-titled release, but shows a progression, holding tight to the punk roots of their adolescence.
Good Charlotte are:
Joel Madden – Vocals
Benji Madden – Guitar, Vocals
Billy Martin – Guitar, Keyboard
Paul Thomas – Bass
Dean Butterworth – Drums
‘Cardiology’ Produced by Don Gilmore