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CD Review: Good Charlotte 

Cardiology (Capitol)

If you're expecting Good Charlotte to return to their pop-punk roots on their fifth album, you'll be disappointed. But for everyone else, the group's willingness to embrace new sounds and play it subtle are happy surprises. Opening with a brief nod to Brian Wilson, Cardiology segues into "Let the Music Play" and its soaring melody and skittering drums. The tight harmonies in "Silver Screen Romance" trade punk pretense for skillful pop. And "Last Night" slyly hints at dub-step, with its shadowy, syncopated bass line. The only time Good Charlotte come close to their old pop-punk days is in "Like It's Her Birthday," where metallic guitars, sing-along vocals, and a call-and-response chorus meet on the dance floor. There's some forgettable stuff too — like the folky pop and U2-style anthems of a few songs — but it all ends with the title track's lovely a cappella harmonies blending with pop-classicist touches, forcing you to crack a Smile. — Nicholas Hall

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