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Good Charlotte – Cardiology Hits and Misses

Good Charlotte doesn't quite get back to their roots on Cardiology Good Charlotte doesn't quite get back to their roots on Cardiology

Three years since the woeful wrong turn they took with Good Morning Revival, Good Charlotte are back with a new full-length, Cardiology, which was supposed to be a return to form for the MTV poster boys. But while Cardiology is definitely a step in the right direction, it’s not totally the re-exploration of the Maryland band’s pop-punk roots that was advertised.

The album gets out to a decent start with an a cappella intro piece, and then launches into some very good pop-punk numbers. The songwriting is hook-laden and makes a strong promise for the rest of the record, even if the production is overwrought.

But hey, if you’re looking for gritty production values, you’re not picking up a Good Charlotte album anyway. So here listeners can pretty much get what they expect – slicked up, heavily processed sounds with little sense of the human beings behind the instruments. But this is pop after all, so let’s get back to the songs themselves.

The first track after the intro is “Let the Music Play,” a simple, jaunty pop-rock song. It’s nothing to write home about, but it’s a solid song. And most importantly for Good Charlotte, the lyrics don’t get in the way of an otherwise listenable tune. If only that were true of the whole record.

“Counting the Days” and “Silver Screen Romance” come on and we’re still doing okay. These two tracks are just basic pop-punk songs - catchy, simple with a few bright hooks and memorable breakdowns.

It’s not until Cardiology starts to get to the halfway point that things go south. “Like It’s Her Birthday” was the album’s first single, and it is exactly the type of braindead dance-rock the band said they were through with. However, it’s not the genre switch that does it in (there are great dance rock bands out there), but the nursery rhyme melody in the chorus combined with loathsome lyrics about someone's drunk girlfriend.

The next track, “Last Night,” is another dance-rock track, better than the previous, but totally skippable. “Sex On the Radio” starts to turn the album around, but another bout of puerile lyrics combined with gratingly predictable harmonies keep the middle of Cardiology soft.

Now it’s become clear that Cardiology is a tale of two types of songs – keepers and trash. Of the remaining tracks, “Alive,” and “There She Goes,” are the former, while the power ballad “Standing Ovation,” “1979,” “Right Where I Belong,” and the title track can all be tossed aside. A couple other tracks could go either way.

On Cardiology, Good Charlotte shows signs of returning to the band they were back when they seemed like bubblegum style fun. Unfortunately, some of the bad habits they acquired as superstars have stuck around. As for the passable tracks, yes, they are worth a spin, but none of them are mind-blowing enough to justify picking up the whole record. Hopefully Joel and Benji Madden continue down this path and can see clear to deliver a solid album in another couple of years.

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Last modified on Monday, 12 November 2012 06:09

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