Lazy Boys: Good Charlotte couches its new songs in lame dance beats.

Sign up for our free newsletter

Good Charlotte has always been best taken with a grain of salt. Their first three albums were decent contributions to the early-aughts pop-punk/emo explosion, and by channeling a mildly immature discontent into catchy pop-rock songs, they earned an adoring fan base mostly made up of teenage girls in black Hot Topic T-shirts. The Waldorf, Md., quartet has always been borderline silly—all those poorly written, overly earnest lyrics, all that smudged eyeliner—but on their new album, Good Morning Revival, Good Charlotte becomes blatantly ridiculous. Attempting to grow out of the scene that raised them, they’ve taken slick production to the extreme, creating a schizophrenic mix of dance-rock and their familiar three-chord, nasal-voiced pop-punk. “Keep Your Hands Off My Girl” sounds cynically designed for DJs to slip on the turntables between Joy Division and Le Tigre, and it suffers from Joel Madden’s comically weak chorus: “I’ve got brass knuckles hanging from my neck and my chain.” He’s similarly poetry-impaired on the balladesque opener, “Misery,” as he decries the existence of “plastic people” who are “dying inside” and wails support for his own morose state of mind: “Don’t you know that misery loves company/Yeah I heard that misery was looking for me/Happiness is a place that don’t look good on me.” He sings those lines over a backdrop of arena-sized and ultra-polished guitar riffs and drum beats so perfectly timed it’s hard to believe they were produced by humans. Good Charlotte is clearly desperate to remain an “it” band: You have to do something to keep those Hot Topic teens once they hit their 20s, start shopping at American Apparel, and learn to drink PBR ironically. But writing a song called “Dance Floor Anthem” and shrieking “Don’t be afraid to get down” is an obviously disingenuous guise—Good Charlotte now comes off like an 11-year-old stumbling around her parents’ bedroom in Mom’s heels and makeup. The album’s first single, “The River,” is more likable, but even there the band’s cribbing the melodic, propulsive guitar sound from the Alkaline Trio, and Madden can’t make “prodigal son” and “out on my own” rhyme no matter how hard he tries. He groans for deliverance from his sins on the track; here’s hoping he eventually redeems himself for the ones he committed on this album.