Since reuniting in 2016, Good Charlotte have a newfound enthusiasm for touring the world, and being pop-punk’s elder statesmen. However, never a band to rest on their laurels, the band have always been keen to experiment with their sound, and lyrical topics.
In a somewhat uncertain America, it’s no surprise that addiction to prescription drugs is at an all time high. It was this, and twin frontmen, Joel and Benji Madden’s own mental struggles that served as the primary inspiration for ‘Generation Rx’.
The album opens with the haunting wail of title track ‘Generation Rx’. it’s a simple and bleak opening to the record, setting the tone of what is to come.
Self Help’ begins with electronic flourish, before swiftly giving way to a full-on rock assault; the kind Dave Ghrol would be proud of. Featuring an ear worm of a chorus, it’s instantly apparent that Good Charlotte haven’t lost their knack for writing a catchy rock track.
The loudness continues on second single ‘Shadow Boxer’, a modern-rock track chronicling the facing of one’s demons, and captures the trauma this entails perfectly.
Following the onslaught of the opening two tracks, ‘Actual Pain’ is the hangover left in the aftermath. It is s true stadium rock song in the best sense, and is as cathartic as it is epic.
‘Prayers’ is the final single released before the album dropped. A true slow-burner; the track is heavily produced, and betrays the R&B influences that Good Charlotte have flirted with throughout their careers. It is a positive, if not slightly forgettable track, following the fury of ‘Self Help’ and ‘Shadow Boxer’, however this reprieve is definitely necessary.
In contrast, ‘Cold Song’ is a much more effective slow song. Heart-wrenching in the best possible way, and relatable to everyone who has been through hard times. The very real emotion flows out of every lyric sung in tandem by frontmen Joel and Benji. Also featured on this track, is the rarity of a Billy Martin guitar solo. This is a decidedly high point on the album.
Picking up the frenetic pace, ‘Leech’ is another hard-hitting slab of alternative rock. Featuring almost nu-metal-esque grooves and a shout-along chorus, this will almost certainly work its way into the band’s live set before too long. Guest vocals provided by Architects frontman Sam Carter are an impressive addition, and adds to the record’s heavier sound.
‘Better Demons’ follows, and opens with a recording of a psychiatrists diagnosis, keeping in theme with the album’s message, this adds to the atmosphere and discomfort of the album. This soon gives way to heavy guitars and synthesised orchestral strings. The track is heavily produced, but this only enhances the song, rather than drowning it in a sea of effects.
Finally, album closer ‘California’ is a haunting, melancholic lament to getting over trauma and emotional pain. It’s a positive end to what is a cathartic release of an album. The acoustic guitar is heavily enhanced with electronic effects, but this is very much in keeping with the album, and adds to the musicianship, rather than causes it detriment.
During recording, Benji Madden remarked that ‘Generation Rx’ would be a “Good rock record, rather than a pop-punk record’. The results here suggest that Good Charlotte have been thoroughly successful in this pursuit.
Generation Rx is a very different beast from 2016’s Youth Authority, as the pop-punk has largely been left behind, and in its place is a sleeker, more polished brand of modern alt-rock. Facing their demons, and beating them, the band have grown into the anthemic outfit that they always had the potential to be. Generation Rx is a successful, and very fine addition to the veteran’s back-catalogue. Emotional self-help has never sounded so good!