Let’s start off with a moment of honesty, a good amount of people (including myself) who listened to Good Charlotte way back when probably thought that The Madden Brothers‘ debut release was going to be at least 75% similar to their GC works. Well it looks like the joke is on us because Greetings From California is so far from anything that Joel and Benji Madden had released that you would be mind-blown that they were even in a band like Good Charlotte if you didn’t already know who they were. Talk about wanting to make their own name for themselves.
The interesting thing about Greetings From California is that it is split up into 2 separate “discs”, which is already a rarity in its own, let alone for a debut album. They debuted their new musical endeavor with “We Are Done”, the anthem-like Grouplove meets Marvin Gaye‘s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” single that has reached number 1 in Australia and New Zealand as well as the top 50 on 3 Billboard charts. It’s apparent that Joel and Benji wanted to start their journey on a clean slate and that is certainly what they did. They chose to venture into pseudo-indie pop territory that are shown at it’s fullest in “California Rain”, the bonfire serenade “Suddenly”, and especially in the harmonica infused “Brother”.
Both discs start off with a radio static-filled, time traveling intro for its following track (“Dear Jane” for disc one and “California Rain” for disc two), and both discs are filled with songs that seemed similar to the hit tracks like Fun.‘s “Some Nights” (“Brixton”), Kid Rock‘s “All Summer Long” (“Bad”), Taylor Swift‘s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” (“Dear Jane”), and 5 Seconds of Summer a-la “Amnesia” in “Empty Spirits” (which is ironic because they co-wrote that song).
To even out the similarities to other songs that aren’t theirs, there are a good handful of tracks that trigger some memories because they a few elements from their Good Charlotte days. The attention-commanding vocals of “U R” could have easily been recorded to be a GC song while “Jealousy (All Your Friends in Silverlake)” could have been the companion to 2007’s “Dance Floor Anthem”. The final track of disc one, “Love Pretenders”, contains familiar lyrical tendencies as past release and this is continued throughout “Out Of My Mind” and subtly in “Good Gracious Abbey”.
As someone who grew up with Good Charlotte, Greetings From California sounds a little off-putting due to the fact that it’s of the alternative/indie-pop spectrum of music rather than pop-punk. To the older fans like myself, this album could easily be seen as a huge attempt at differentiating themselves from what they put out in their old band, which is understandable in a way. If it were solely based on the lyrics and instrumentation alone, this album is the absolute epitome of what “California Road Trip Music” is. However, it’s difficult to look past The Madden Brothers’ ‘I want to be different’ mentality that almost overpowers all of the songs. Greetings From California is a catchy album, but it’s definitely not something that long time fans would expect from pop-punk’s favorite twins.