Avril Lavigne, “Avril Lavigne”

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The pop queen is back, and she’s become a bit schizophrenic.

Avril Lavigne has never had to beg to get attention.  Her first album was a big hit, her hit single “Girlfriend” exploded the charts, and her most recent self-titled album was recently named Album of the Week on Amazon.  So it’s a bit odd that she still feels the need to resort to a shallow juvenile attitude and coarse language to sell music.

Her third album The Best D— Thing was one of the trashiest mainstream pop albums in the past ten years.  It was also horrid musically, but thankfully that phase didn’t last long—musically, that is.  Goodbye Lullaby was her best album to date musically, and showed significantly less of the language and sexuality that had plagued her previous album.  This album sticks to the softer ballad-based style she relied on for Goodbye Lullaby, but shows a bit of a return to her old juvenile attitude.

The album’s strength is found in her softer ballads.  “17,” “Let Me Go,” and “Give What You Like” are songs that rely on this formula.  Chad Kroeger’s visiting vocals on “Let Me Go” make it among the most memorable songs on the album.  Unfortunately, she breaks from this formula, and the result on those tracks is disastrous.

“Bad Girl,” a garage rock-esque song featuring Marilyn Manson, would be more fitting on a Pretty Reckless album, and Lavigne isn’t near as good at it as Taylor Momsen in the first place.  “Hello Kitty” would have been more at home on her abysmal third album.  She incorporates an awkward sort of atonal talking; it doesn’t even sound like rapping.  It also has the awful juvenile attitude that’s made Lavigne’s early fans reject her.   The song is basically about bratty girls having a sleepover.  For a 29-year-old woman, that’s pretty pathetic.

Other than those two songs, most of the lyrics don’t present a lot of problems, thematically.  That’s a welcome change, and surprising, given Chad Kroeger’s extensive involvement with the record.  That’s not to say that the album isn’t without its problems.  “Rock ‘N Roll” references “flipping the bird” and contains a euphemism for the f-word.  The album has other problems, such as a reference to “making love” and drunken references.

It can be a worthwhile album if certain songs are omitted.  The problematic tracks are “Rock N Roll,” “Here’s to Never Growing Up,” “B——- Summer,” “Bad Girl,” and “Hello Kitty.”  Take your pick from the other songs, because there are good songs here, but the album as a whole has too much trash.

Song-By-Song Breakdown

1. Rock ‘N Roll

Kind of catchy, but not without price.  The statement “I don’t care about my makeup” seems kind of hypocritical given the album cover, but Lavigne apparently doesn’t notice.  The song contains a swear word, a euphemism, and repeated references to the middle finger, so it’s hardly worth the time.  1/5

2. Here’s to Never Growing Up

While the song begins as a harmless ode to good times in high school, it’s not without its issues as well.  Five swear words and references to “dancing on every bar” make it clear what kind of “fun” Lavigne is interested in.  1/5

3. 17

One of the most melodic songs on the album, “17” is a song about good times and young love.  It’s mostly sweet and somewhat innocent, other than a few references to rule-breaking.  4/5

4. B——- Summer

With a total of 16 swear words, I don’t feel obligated to review the song any further.  It’s trash, end of story.  1/5

5. Let Me Go

Lavigne and Kroeger’s vocals mix really well together, singing a heartstring ballad about saying goodbye.  It’s a very balanced break-up song, referring to “Love that once hung on the wall,” but doesn’t vilify the other person.  5/5

6. Give What You Like

I really like the smooth acoustic guitar and soft opening vocals.  I don’t understand the need for “Wrap your drunken arms around me.”  It seems to indicate that drunken love is more natural or commonplace than committed relationships (or perhaps just easier).  That is the only drunken reference in the song, however, and otherwise is a song looking for love.  That statement in the song’s first line, however, ought not be overlooked.  3/5

7. Bad Girl

Even overlooking how out of place this song is stylistically on this album, the song is horrid.  Lavigne is completely out of her element and the song seems to find no end to debauchery and depravity.  1/5

8. Hello Kitty

Musically, the song is just weird.  The backing music is kind of cool, but the awkward atonal talking and rapping makes it painful to listen to.  That’s not to mention the immature, bratty girl feel.  1/5

9. You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet

This album seems to be full of dramatic transitions.  It’s a welcome change, however, as this song is a sweet love song.  That said, it’s pretty boring, and won’t be stuck in anyone’s head.  2/5

10. Sippin’ on Sunshine

Like its predecessor, this song is fine lyrically, but slightly boring.  It’s a little bit more interesting.  The verse threatens to put me to sleep (and not in a good way) but the chorus is pretty cool.  3/5

11. Hello Heartache

The music of this track reminds me a little bit of Monsters and Men.  It works well with Lavigne’s voice, making this track my favorite on the record.  It’s a sad song, repeating “Goodbye friend/Hello heartache,” but expresses sadness without vilifying anyone, which is hard to find.  5/5

12. Falling Fast

This is another soft song, but it has a really cool acoustic guitar riff, keeping it from the boredom that plagued “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” and “Sippin’ on Sunshine.”  The song is about falling in love: “I’m falling fast/I hope this lasts.”  The song has some of the most real emotion of any track of the album,

and makes you forget how cliché love songs really are, even if for only a few minutes.  5/5

13. Hush Hush

This is another song about lost love, and the piano mixed with occasional strings makes this one another great track: “I didn’t mean to kiss you/You didn’t mean to fall in love/I never meant to hurt you.”  5/5

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