It’s a bit mad to think that it’s been over ten years since musical twin brothers Benji and Joel Madden popped into our lives with the release of angst fueled, seminal pop-punk album; ‘Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous’. Despite Good Charlotte rising through the ranks to eventually become one of the most popular bands in their genre, the brothers have now made their first steps as a solo band, cemented by the upcoming release of their debut album ‘Greetings From California’. Writing, recording and performing under (the albeit slightly unimaginative) name of The Madden Brothers, the album showcases a new sound and a brave step away from the security of Good Charlotte.
‘Greetings From California’ is split into two halves, the first of which is chock full of sunny, upbeat pop anthems whilst the second is an eclectic blend of earthy folk, old school rock and roll sounds and 70’s pop touches. Right from the get go, opening track ‘Dear Jane’ makes it clear that this is in no way a Good Charlotte record. The summery guitar riffs float softly over a pop-driven beat and the vocals are more reminiscent of The White Stripes than the American pop-punk lilt we’re used to hearing from Joel. Songs like ‘U R’ remind us all of the brother’s sixth sense for sniffing out a seriously infectious hook, whilst more atmospheric tracks on the second part of the album such as ‘Brother’ showcase the Madden’s talent for gifting songs with just the right balance of light and shade. It’s a track that’s been written and recorded with such a huge amount of emotion and brooding, melodic finesse that it’s impossible not to like.
There’s not a huge amount to complain zealously about on this record, but there are more stylistic changes than you’ll find at a Beyonce concert. Unfortunately, not all of these choices manage to elevate certain tracks to the aforementioned heights of success. The introduction to ‘Good Gracious Abbey’ for example, is more than a little reminiscent of the backing music from The Sims and the lovely vintage vibe emanating from “Brixton“ is at odds with the overly-modern vocal introduction and bridge. This album is really at its best when the boys keep things simple, no matter what genre they’re being inspired by.
Good Charlotte were never a band that shied away from a catchy hook and their fondness for this still prevails in ‘Greetings’. That, combined with the vast array of musical influences present in each of the songs, means that I’m pretty sure everyone (unless you’re a total grinch) will like at least two or three of the songs on this fifteen track behemoth. No matter what your opinion of Good Charlotte, or Benji and Joel themselves, The Madden Brothers have produced a sunshine-soaked beauty of a debut which effectively demonstrates their musical credentials. This is an eccentric, uplifting record that when approached with an open mind and open ears, is bound to put a smile on your face. Summer is over in the UK, but this album makes you feel like it’s the perfect time to pack up the surfboards, dig out the sunglasses and blast standout, surf-inspired track ‘We Are Done’ out of rolled down windows. Come back, sunshine!