The Madden Brothers

Greetings from California

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The dance-punk remake didn't work, nor did the back-to-basics move, so the Madden Brothers decided to pursue another option: leave Good Charlotte behind to create a California concept album. The siblings' decision to go it alone is a convenient way to draw a musical distinction between their punk band and the pure pop of Greetings from California. The Maddens always showed a fondness for a pop hook while fronting Good Charlotte, but Greetings from California is unabashedly pop, from its shimmering surface to its foundation. The brothers are beholden to iconic Californian ideals, sounds, and sensibilities rooted in the sun, surf, and hills of L.A., not the hippies of San Francisco. Greetings from California is littered with allusions, whether it's the classic surf reverb of "We Are Done" (which can't help but recall Smash Mouth, as well, thanks in no small part to the presence of SM collaborator Eric Valentine behind the scenes), the new wave of "Jealousy (All Your Friends in Silverlake), the reference to "Here Comes the Sun" in "California Rain," a Duran Duran quote on "Brother," and an expert evocation of yacht rock on "Good Gracious Abbey." As fun as it is to play spot the influence -- indeed, that's part of the reason behind the record -- this isn't a deliberately retro effort, not when it opens with a gleaming piece of AAA called "Dear Jane." This is something better: a record designed to carry on the tradition of smooth, fizzy bubblegum into the new millennium and, against all odds, it succeeds mightily.

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