Good Charlotte : The Young And The Hopelesss

Jimmy Eat World with something interesting to say

Name like a child’s doll that convincingly wets itself. Guitars carved from coagulated chunks of Billie J’ Armstrong’s spewtum. ‘Issues’ with ‘Dad’. All damn good arguments for bringing back the slave trade for slack-brained young stinkos like Good Charlotte.

Like a decent Chinese takeaway the whole infectious energy of the New Found Blinking For Soup 41 skate ‘genre’ feels great but leaves you strangely empty shortly afterwards. They might shift enough records to build a life-size CD replica of the Great Wall Of China but in the eyes of the law they’ll always be the flatulent idiot cousins of Dashboard Confessional.

Unless, that is, ‘The Young And The Hopeless’ becomes a set text in the Academy Of Dweebpunk’s Scatalogical Hilarity department. This is the sudden extra fold of punk-pop’s cerebral cortex, the evolutionary leap into an unexpected maturity. No, come back ‘boobies’ fans, you don’t have to think if it hurts – Good Charlotte ground their excellent snotty punk in the folklore of the Troubled Teen so as not to scare the MTV horses.

There are songs about how girls are brilliant (‘Riot Girl’) and how girls are horrid and smell (the superb Buggles pastiche ‘Girls & Boys’, which, in a chauvinistic sweep bordering on genius, huffs “Girls don’t like boys/Girls like cars and money”). There’s slick riff elegies on The Pain (‘The Day That I Die’), The Broken Home (‘The Story Of My Old Man’) and The Losers United By The Rock (‘Anthem’). Acne-smattered guitars barrel tunefully around like Green Day never grew hair in their ears. So far so theme to The Real World.

But within these standard-issue Angsty sk8er Bois lurks an emo-esque intelligence that’d kill Blink 182 in under a minute were they infected with it. Take first single ‘Lifestyles Of The Rich & Famous’. Trucks on a trampoline, right? Yes, but it also advocates an anarchistic form of rob-the-rich Communism while taking sideswipes at celebrity culture, political hypocrisy and OJ Simpson. The title track is an earnest re-evaluation of the very term ‘punk’ and when singer Joel Madden breaks out the acoustic to whinge an open letter to his absentee dad on ‘Emotionless’, he does it with such tenderness and humility it’d make Eminem want to hug his mom.

They look like stinking snakes of the dorkoid gutter but Good Charlotte are actually Jimmy Eat World with something interesting to say. That sound is New Found Glory becoming extinct.

Mark Beaumont