Reuniting after a six-year hiatus -- during which time, leading sibling Joel and Benji Madden pursued a soft rock busman's holiday as the Madden Brothers -- Good Charlotte find themselves in a curious position with 2016's Youth Authority. Despite the adolescent yawp of the title, it's no guarantee that Good Charlotte are anything like authorities on youth: the Maddens are staring down middle age, realizing that their connection to teens may be slipping away. Such self-consciousness leads them toward mawkishness and nostalgia -- the latter surfaces on "40 Oz. Dream," a remember-the-'90s stroll through the past where they're shocked by rappers singing and rockers DJ'ing -- a trait that turns endearing when combined with the incessant hunger of the faster numbers. Good Charlotte do not eschew modern sounds -- a good chunk of the album pulsates to synthesized sequences and even the surging rockers contain a digital sheen -- and this willingness to embrace modern sounds helps temper how the group is, at its core, a Y2K punk band, a fourth generation group who cherishes a clean attack as much as self-expression and who have never sneered at a mainstream wanting to get a little wild. All of these ideas feed into Youth Authority, a record that gleams but also roars, an album that still feels the pull of adolescent rebellion even as middle age sentimentality begins to descend. This may mean the record isn't perfect -- the slower stuff often turns sticky -- but the group wear their heart on their sleeves and, somehow, that tendency is more endearing as the Maddens turn into middle age warriors.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine