Good Charlotte’s Madden brothers release new side project
By Caitlin LeRoux
Joel and Benji Madden, the front men twins of the pop punk group Good Charlotte, have delved into a new side project with their album “Greetings from California,” which was released on Sept. 16. Under their new moniker “The Madden Brothers,” this duo is venturing from their garage band sound accompanied by pop beats into a more rhythmic “indie” sound, with the help of producer and song writer, Pharrell Williams. This change has been met with lukewarm success.
The album’s lead single “We Are Done” was released in June. It is approached with a gentle rhythmic guitar, and a memorable bass line is the standout of this tune; however, it fails to combat the conventional chorus. This track will sound familiar lyrically for fans of Good Charlotte, as the words pander to the outcasts of the world―or as the brothers put it, “the silent many.” This homage paid to the outsiders of the world is cliché, offering nothing unique lyrically. The reverberating “done, done, done” in the song helps it to delve into the pop sphere, but not to the extent that it offers a complete transformation for the duo.
Lead singer Joel Madden’s voice also has a somewhat adenoidal, monotonous sound, which disrupts the feeling of the calm and folky vibes intended for the “Greetings from California” album. His voice seems better suited for the type of punk pop music he sang in the past.
The lyrics of the duo have not improved much from their days of Good Charlotte, sounding both conversational and immature. This could be assumed to be what the brothers believe is their “voice” in the music, but in reality, it becomes distracting to the actual quality of the music accompanied with it. This is seen in the track “Empty Spirits,” where the brothers said, “they got good music here.” They also allude to “Lilac Wine” by Jeff Buckley, a song that has far more skill lyrically than the brothers’ track, making it an ambitious reference.
The entirety of the album makes the leap for a folky “California” sound, but with the Brothers’ desire to differentiate themselves from their past works of pop punk, they fall short. They instead find themselves in a variant of modern pop with rhythmic guitar backings.
The music production is definitely the main talent of the brothers, as shown with the pulsing drumbeat of “Good Gracious Abbey,” along with the sweeping string-backed “Empty Spirits” and the danceable “Jealousy (All your Friends in Silverlake).” With the help of Williams and producers Eric Valentine and Joe Chiccarelli, the Madden Brothers have proven themselves in terms of production and the notes they play, which are the continual factors of the album that make it worth revisiting.
The brothers have shown their flair for creating music with bass guitar and resonant drum sounds, but they seem to struggle with the chorus of the tracks, an essential aspect of a song in order to get radio plays.
While they have the potential to create high-quality music, it seems their talents would be best suited with working and producing for other artists, as they have started to do in recent year with bands like 5 Seconds Of Summer and Tonight Alive. Overall, the album is a good effort, but unfortunately misses the mark for the great change from their past work that the brothers were seeking.