After the overly mellow and could’ve-been-better 2011 album Goodbye Lullaby, Avril Lavigne needed to redeem herself a little to prove that she’s not losing her punk princess crown. She must have been really determined to get this new self-titled album out because she started writing for it three months after GL was released and wrote so many songs that she thought she was going to release two back-to-back albums instead of one. Even though the date kept getting pushed back, she kept our interest by releasing three singles (all of which were different sound-wise) from Avril Lavigne within two months of each other and revealed its cover art via Instagram. After a long wait, the anticipation has finally come to an end and let’s just say Ms. Avril is back!
The album starts off with the ‘rock-is-not-dead’ anthem “Rock N Roll” and is followed by the first single, “Here’s to Never Growing Up”. There are multiple moments where traces of her debut album shine through (more so in “17”, which sounds like a slower but still upbeat version of “Sk8er Boi” with an alternate storyline), but it is definitely more like a duplicate of 2007’s The Best Damn Thing than a nostalgia piece. She does incorporate some interesting collaborations in the mix, like her love duet with Nickelback hubby Chad Kroeger (“Let Me Go”) and a track that embodies everything Fifty Shades of Grey stands for called “Bad Girl (feat. Marilyn Manson)”.
Three songs that are absolute train wrecks are the cheesy, island-y, vacation track “Bitchin’ Summer” (she tries to rap, not okay), its sequel “Sippin’ on Sunshine” (pretty much the same exact song), and the motherload, “Hello Kitty”. Not only does that track consist of nonsense, childlike gibberish for lyrics but the instrumentation itself sounds like a kooky hybrid of Gwen Stefani‘s “Hollaback Girl” and Ke$ha‘s entire catalogue. All of those songs are just way off the mark of the pop-punk artistry that Lavigne tends to embody.
However, she redeems herself the most with “Give You What You Like”, a more bluesy, sultry, grown-up version of “Complicated” that would fit in perfectly with The CW’s The Vampire Diaries. It’s the perfect dosage of creepy and dark and it brings a story out of the simple topic of making love. Paired with the elegant ending track about letting go of a secret affair called “Hush Hush”, there’s no doubt that emotions will pour over you with each heart-wrenching lyric and key of the piano.
Avril Lavigne’s self-titled endeavor starts and ends strongly but has a little too many songs that are straight up just difficult to listen to and enjoy. While it still sounds like the Avril we all know and love, there are moments where she doesn’t sound like herself at all but instead like the love child of Hayley Williams from Paramore and Michelle Branch. Plus, it is a little contradicting because it has all the makings of a cutesy teeny-bopper album but is paired with lyrics that are more suited for the college crowd. The ‘forever young’ theme weaved throughout makes the album not only nostalgic, but easier to accept that her music is growing with her listeners.