Avril Lavigne, ‘Avril Lavigne’ – Album Review
Will Avril Lavigne ever grow up? Judging from her music, the answer is a resounding “NO!”
But a more important question is “Why should she have to?”
‘Avril Lavigne’ is her fifth album and we can’t deny that self-titling it made us think this is the essential Avril album. She may have ditched her ties and Converse Chuck Taylors for heels and dressier attire at times, but she still has the same aesthetic: Slightly bratty, always sassy, semi-adenoidal, a bit Valley Girl and full of life.
She still sounds like Avril, and she’s not trying to be something she is not. For that, we salute and applaud the Canadian angst queen.
On this record, the singer has captured and bottled youthful exuberance and channeled it into song. But it’s never immature or “Oh, not this again,” once you give it several listens. There are also more than a few laments on love.
1. ‘Rock N Roll’
Avril still has that Alanis-meets-Joni vocal diction, but this is her Joan Jett rocker-style anthem. It’s such a delightful, bad girlish romp and a guilty pleasure.
2. ‘Here’s to Never Growing Up’
Av has frontloaded the album with rebellious, smeared eyeliner anthems, complete with da-dum, da-dum lyrical delivery. This track is an ode to youth that hasn’t been lost but rather has been extended indefinitely and that’s what makes it so life-affirming. Av and her rounded “Woah woah woah” choruses are all over the place. Her diction might grate on some listeners, but her fans love that nasally, overly enunciative tone.
Youth remains a popular lyrical topic three songs into ‘Avril Lavigne.’ On this summery, top down track, she recalls young, first love with vivid detail and a metronomic beat. This is Av at her most Taylor Swift. That is, she’s confessional, breathy and celebrating love, but with a bit more edge than America’s aforementioned sweetheart.
4. ‘Bitchin’ Summer’
Expecting a rager, based on the title? Check that notion at the door. It’s a slower paced, thoughtful track that escalates with handclaps. It’s actually a complicated song, in terms of structure and acoustic construction. Then there’s this inexplicable rap part. It feels out of place, but that was probably the point, since it’s not seamless.
5. ‘Let Me Go’ Feat. Chad Kroeger
Both Av and her second husband, Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger, are established, prolific and un-mess-with-able songwriters. They know how to pen tracks that will stick to your ribs. ‘Let Me Go’ is a ballad with strings, one that might make you a little sad. CK shows up in the second verse, but it’s his wife’s song, through and through. The ethereal fadeout finds Av drifting further and further away as her voice diminishes.
6. ‘Give You What You Like’
Strummy riffs and handclaps start the song off and when Lavigne starts singing, she sounds a bit like Lana Del Rey. As the song progresses, her voice apes Katy Perry‘s. It’s interesting, to say the least, especially when the echo vocals comes into play.
7. ‘Bad Girl’ Feat. Marilyn Manson
Now this is a collabo that had us scratching our heads before we even heard a note. But it’s actually a punchy, garage-y track that is more inspired by the shock rocker’s music than it is by hers. It’s angry, rompy and totally bad ass, with plenty of industrialized synths. Avril’s no shrinking violet, but she dares pop music conventions with this dirty song. It’s Avril flirting with an R-rating, and Manson flirting with a PG-one. They both win!
8. ‘Hello Kitty’
Here, Avril plays with urban and EDM beats. It’s sex-kitten cute. It’s like she went to Japan and hung out with a bunch of Harajuku Girls and wrote a song with ‘em. EDM is all the rage so we don’t blame her for going there, since she does so for only one song; she is not trend hopping.
9. ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet’
This later album cut is punchy and reminds us of Avril of yore. There’s urgency in the verses, and the tension is relieved in the roomier choruses. It’s one of the album’s hookiest tracks.
10. ‘Sippin’ on Sunshine’
Here’s another summery song that’s a love letter to a boy looking so fly and hotter than July — her words. It’s an upbeat and cute track. We want a sip or two or 10. Like the album’s earlier anthems, this one begs the listener to throw their hands in the air and invites tons of singing along.
11. ‘Hello Heartache’
Av says goodbye to romance, but isn’t giving up on love in this upbeat love song. There’s lots of “la la la las,” which makes heartache and a crappy sitch sound better. Music is a healer, right?
12. ‘Falling Fast’
‘Falling Fast’ is a sweet, breathy ode to just letting go and letting love. It’s the most vulnerable track on the album and sounds inspired by her fellow Canuck Sarah McLachlan.
13. ‘Hush Hush’
The album ends with a piano-y ode to love. It feels like a movie soundtrack song. It’s a love lullaby — making it a “luvlaby.” It’s Lavigne’s most mature songwriting effort. So while the album is populated by plenty of youthful bangers (not ‘Bangerz’), there are more pensive and reflective tracks, like this one.