American pop/rock duo The Madden Brothers sure know how to make waves, although their project is relatively new the world is no stranger to the twins; Joel and Benji Madden are founding members of pop/punk supergroup Good Charlotte, but you already knew that right? Talks of a side project conceptualised by the pair circulated around 2011 followed by a mixtape released “for the fun of music”, plans for an album released the next year fell through; the brothers released their 2x platinum certified (AU) smash debut single We Are Done in July, a sound so seperate from their Good Charlotte influences. Finally the duo have released their highly anticipated debut album, Greetings From California; side one features upbeat pop/rock tracks produced by long-time collaborator Eric Vallentine, whilst side two delivers a more earthy sound handled by Grammy award-winning producer Joe Chiccarelli. We are about to hear the brothers like we never have before!
The Dear Jane Intro teases us with very brief snippets of the album’s first side to get you pumped, the grainy radio reception makes way for the classic pop influenced Dear Jane; a smooth and addictive start led by Benji, the brothers share lead of half the album’s tracks each. The drumming in Brixton stands out as it brings the track to a higher level of atmosphere, the melody and accompanying harmonies are majestic; the twins sure are hook happy on this record, the needy Out Of My Mind is as catchy as anything.
The 60’s style pop/rock influence shines throughout lead single We Are Done, the tonal qualities resonating from the vocal in the verses are magical and the explosion in the chorus was an unexpected surprise; U R continues the upbeat vibe in side one, but there’s something about it that stands out from the others, perhaps its the warmth in the vocal from beginning to end or a combination of elements. Jealousy pursues a potential relationship stalled because of what jealous friends think in the form of power pop, only for the guys to shy away from love in fear of being hurt in the boppy Love Pretenders, bringing side one to a close.
A brief introduction starts side two’s engines, transitioning into California Rain; the track takes us back to the brothers’ early days when they were trying to ‘make it’, the harmonies and guitar work shine and the song is the result of a Pharrell Williams collaboration. Brother combines pop, rock and folk elements and blows you away with its vocal and lyrical delivery (and that harmonica!!); it sounded as if Bad was going to be grungy judging by its intro, but turns out to be another boppy radio friendly tune. Abby is a diverse track, the verse is your smooth 70’s inspired rock and the chorus is a thumpy atmosphere with attitude, but it’s the least memorable track on the album; Suddenly is another smooth listen appropriate for a sunny Sunday afternoon with a drink in hand for a moment to unwind. The album concludes with the downbeat Empty Spirits, showing us some more emotive delivery in the vocal.
What an effort from The Madden Brothers, the average music listener would go into listening to Greetings From California expecting a Good Charlotte spin-off; instead you are treated with a two-parter drawing influences from music’s most influential decades for the pop/rock genre, whilst at the same time staying true to the modern formula of writing pop music. The hooks are edgy, the melodies are catchy and the harmonies flow vibrantly; the instrumentation and overall atmosphere of the record are also a hit, the guitar work is admirable and the album’s vibe is appealing. Not bad for twin brothers who were told they wouldn’t ‘make it’ in the music world, they worked with the right producers to nail the classic/modern sound they were going for and managed to break away from their pop/punk beginnings to stand alone.