Good Charlotte – ‘Generation Rx’

By Kelly Ronaldson

Good Charlotte had been shaken to their core following the death of close friend and rapper Lil Peep. Struggling with the emotional aftermath and the growing drug crisis in our society, the title of their latest record, ‘Generation Rx’, comes from our generation being “the first one to have so many options to kill pain” and a deep, burning desire to confront it. In an attempt to portray the wisdom that the band had each learned throughout their lives and avoiding any influence from the outside world, their seventh studio album was born.

‘Generation Rx’ begins with a haunting introduction track of the same name. Focusing primarily on synths and a heavy bassline that grows steadily throughout the track, the simplicity works to highlight brief yet emotional vocal harmonies. Right from the opening line, “Where does all this pain come from?” it’s evident that this album is one of the band’s most honest and soul-bearing records to date, carefully avoiding any pre-earned reputation but still remaining the same Good Charlotte sound that we all know and love. The build-up of the introduction leads directly into an empowering synth-rock anthem – ‘Self Help’. Another prime example of the Madden brothers’ ability to empathise with their audience effortlessly. It’s a beautiful track that forms a bridge between the concepts of loneliness and solidarity.

‘Shadowboxer 1’ takes a different, slightly aggressive approach as it leans towards the darker elements of both rock influences and lyrical themes. Branching the sounds of Three Days Grace and Breaking Benjamin, the style change works well for an act so closely associated to pop punk and emo, showcasing yet another side of the band’s musical versatility. Meanwhile, lead single ‘Actual Pain’ serves as a subtle throwback to the ‘Good Morning Revival’ years, and incorporating an intense, cinematic guitar sound as the band address the reality and the severity of mental health.

The album then moves into an echo of spine-tingling synths, clean guitar work and emotional lyrical hooks, as ‘Prayers’ marks an unapologetic commentary on school shootings and the vulnerability of young people within today’s society. ‘Cold Song’ packs the same emotional intensity, but changes the tone of the record, this time blending piano and acoustic guitars to lift the audience and serving as a reminder (much like the rest of the record) that “even though life is full of pain, we’re not alone.” Later, ‘Better Demons’ reaches back into the heavier aspects of alternative rock, while ‘Leech’ features an impressive cameo from Architects frontman Sam Carter and a lyrical contribution from Benji Madden.

“If you really dive in, you’ll get a lot of insight into our lives,” claimed Benji, and final song ‘California (The Way I Say I Love You)’ does just that, marking one of the most cheerful and endearing tracks on the album, as the Madden brothers share a heartfelt message to their children that they can “always come home to California.” Good Charlotte have been the voice of a generation since the early noughties, and twenty years into their career the band have solidified their position as one that makes a difference.

KELLY RONALDSON

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