The good news is Chronicles of Life and Death actually succeeds at its goal: breaking Good Charlotte out of the post-blink-182 ghetto. The orchestral ambition barely hinted at on the band's previous effort, Young and the Hopeless, is slathered all over the new disc. Sure, there's still lots of pitter-patter drums and cutesy melodies, but the arrangements incorporate a full palette of genres that stretch from hip-hop to new wave to rock opera. And the bad news? Well, this is Good Charlotte, and dressing up its stale pop-punk with strings and reverb is like pouring Magic Shell over a dog turd. The lyrics are real winners, too, veritable checklists of lameness that include sons who die, daughters who cry, sleeping at night, making things right, ad nauseam. On "The Truth," Joel Madden blubbers in an open sewer of soupy piano while pleading, "I want the truth from you/Give me the truth, even if it hurts me." All right, here it is: Good Charlotte, no matter how many cheesy frills, glittery effects and gaudy sentiments you tack onto your music, you still fucking blow.
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