Sound — 7
It's hard to believe the term "pop punk" was once associated with artists like Simple Plan and Good Charlotte. The early periods of the 2000s' featured television sets dominated by artists like these but when compared to today's definition of the genre, it's blatantly weird to imagine offspring like Metro Station and Forever The Sickest Kids stemmed from songs like "The Anthem". The reason why Good Charlotte's latest release isn't injected with pathetic wails about girls with model looks is because Cardiology borrows genes from the Maryland act's debut releases.
Instead of popping eyes with a venture into dark, menacing tones or indie wonderland, the group keep it simple, tying the chemistry of the Madden brothers around simple pop riffs and hooks. There are advances into sweet sixteen birthday-party anthems ("Like It's Her Birthday", "Sex On The Radio"), but they, like most of the album, fall in line with The Young And The Hopeless, coming mature and not too "synthy". Even the serious attempts at ballads placed in the middle of the fifth studio release refrain from being too lovesick. "Harlow's Song (Can't Dream Without You)" and it's gloomy sincerity along with the alt pop track "Standing Ovation" impeccably set up the rest of the album that plays with hints of electronica and acoustic melodies. The direction barely tosses on an experimental shirt, but in this case, playing it safe works for a band like Good Charlotte.
Lyrics — 6
One of the most difficult things to do as a pop punk artist is to not sound like a heartsick 15-year-old who's songwriting is intended directly for members of the opposite sex. Good Charlotte accomplish this somewhat. The radio-friendly singles don't fall into the shameless clique thanks to Joel Madden and his lazed punk voices, but a few particular songwriting bits do inflict peer-pressure. "All that I remember, is that you had me at hello / I knew right when I met her is that I wouldn't take it slow," pleads Madden on "Last Night", a pop punk track disguised as a dance anthem.
Add in other songs with predictable lyrics ("Right Where I Belong") and Cardiology seems like it's headed for disaster, but put the blame on the album's construction. Madden holds his own as a vocalist on numerous tracks but gets overshadowed by numbers that come off as filler. The first 22 minutes flow but the trio of ballads that drop in sound and power-up on honesty question if the material was actually written in the last two years.
Overall Impression — 7
It's safe to announce, Good Charlotte aren't reinventing themselves and destroying any last drops of credibility they have left. Before the physical release, the group stated Cardiology was a more mature version of their self-titled entry into music, which is indeed crystal-clear. The album doesn't try to be a dance chart-topper. It doesn't pretend to be a hybrid of pop rock. It doesn't even flirt with modern pop punk. What it does is tap into the band's roots, drawing from the heart and speaking in a simple tongue that can satisfy any listener who once called themselves a Good Charlotte fan.