Avril is probably the only female artist who can pull off super thick black eyeliner, sport badly-smeared mascaras and still look gorgeous.
Growing old is an inevitable process, but growing up is a choice. She may not be the first artist to make a statement song about “stay[ing] forever young” amidst those prodding her to “just grow up!”, still, what’s wrong with being young at heart… forever?
Avril has been teasing us with her latest album materials since April, releasing three singles along the way. From the declarative Here’s to never growing up, to the sassy Rock N Roll, to the hollow duet with now-hubby Chad Kroeger, Let me go. Two anthemic songs, one somber ballad, plus another ‘leaked’ track 17 — all sounding so great expectation soared higher and higher…
Goodbye Lullaby is my least favorite album from her so there are plenty of rooms to surpass that. It houses songs that’s very much Avril-ish and contains several gems still; yet overall she sounded sad — even in love song like I love you — and not into it i didn’t reach to it often enough. Regardless, i was fully anticipating her latest record. I knew it’s due in November, and was waiting and waiting only to find out that it was out on the FIRST (or fifth?). It probably got mixed up with 1D’s (out Nov 25) so yeah, i’m shy of a month late for this. Dang!
Before it becomes one full month late, here i go~
Eleven years post her debut album, punk princess Avril Lavigne releases a self-titled album as her fifth. First off is Rock N Roll, setting the energy level at high. Atop that prominent stomp-stomp-clap beat to the massive chorus, it is a more charged and exhilarating number than mid-tempo Here’s which comes next. The latter’s drumbeat is much lazier, lyrics drawled, yet delivered with a punch and thus becomes the more defining song of the two. Here’s relies on well-spaced melody as the hook, while the backed-up vocals at some parts of the song signaling that this is THE song to sing along to.
Tempo upped, 17 takes us back to those days when “we were living so wild and free: seventeen…” I like its tight drumbeat, and am glad that there is no wistful reminiscent like Taylor Swift’s 15 — this sounds a happy nostalgia to me. Still in high-school era territory, Bitchin’ summer rolls in with subdued pinching bass tunes. If Taylor’s Come back.. be here’s guitar strumming seems to take after Wish you were here’s, Avril returns the favor by mirroring the mouthful We are never ever getting back together’s bass jam here.
Instruments added in layer by layer as it progresses from bare verses into feel good, earworm chorus. “I’ll pick you up at the liquor store / Hurry up we can fit one more / It’s now or never / It’s gonna gonna be, be a bitchin’ summer” — tell me this part ain’t catchy. By the time it hits “Uh oh oh oh~”, i am already in the crowd with my hands up.
All cutesy dropped as the piano intro leads us to Let me go. While the official audio alone wasn’t impressive, the MV turned the table around — it’s dark and chills-inducing in the right ways, especially when her vocal is kinda hanging in the air towards the end. It doesn’t sound Avril-ish, yet it reminds me of her ballads. As much as i love her blithe tracks, songs like this showcases her stirring vocal best. It doesn’t rival the power of When you’re gone, neither is it as grand and sweeping as I will be, or as effortless as any of her previous offerings, but it’s the album’s closest bid. Plus, the vocals blend well together.
I thought Let me go was eerie, until i listened to Give you what you like. Mood dips deeper as she clings and implores a bit too hauntingly it is almost menacing. Back instruments are humdrum and unvaried yet swirling it’s almost hypnotizing tho’ not exactly in the good way. Hello heartache, five tracks later, exudes similar vibe, thankfully with more dynamic. Both are sung in lower register unheard of in Avril’s previous oeuvre. Her voice is channeled so deep it almost doesn’t sound like her. Like Everybody hurts, “la la la la la~” singsong is included here, most likely to offset dark content that would otherwise be too somber.
She features Marilyn Manson in her second collaboration in the album. Bad girl is so loud and chaotic i couldn’t finish the song. Just isn’t my cup of tea. Next, “Minna saikou, arigatou! Ka-ka-ka-kawaii~” props opens Hello Kitty. I thought it’s gonna be something… Hello Kitty may be so pretty — cute, rather — or the most likeable Sanrio character, but this song is shrill and annoying. So my reaction to the rumor of it considered to be the next single: please no!!
Past ear-torturing fillers, Avril backpedals to where she left off after Bitchin’ summer. Thank God. Radio-friendly You ain’t seen nothin’ yet reminds me so much of Sk8er boi, a less hyper one, or the whole Let Go era. ‘nuf said — Me likey! If you’re digging Bitchin’ summer, then Sippin’ on sunshine sure is your next favorite. A tad slower with longer pauses in-between lines but as zippy and celebratory. How can it not with all of its Heyy~! Hoo~! shout-outs?
Enough with jaunty and melodramatic songs, Avril croons two sentimental closing tracks, assuaging the listeners’ thirst for such sound. Falling fast is delicate and tender with breathy and well-contained vocal delivery. It’s the album’s simplest and most poignant number. Lastly, there’s Hush hush whose tiptoeing piano sounds like it’s gonna be another Falling fast. It’s not. It is a much stronger and powerful track. The chorus is firm yet tinged with pensive sadness (“So go on, live your life / So go on, say goodbye / So many questions but i don’t ask why / So this time i won’t even try… hush hush now”) and beautiful piano break for the bridge, for good measure. Avril + Piano = Bliss.
That said, i don’t like every song in this album. Especially not the middle part which is either doleful or all over the place. Hence, i agree that it is “at least two-thirds terrific.”
Overall, Avril Lavigne (the album) alludes The Best Damn Thing the most in terms of production, in that it’s filled with i-don’t-give-a-damn tracks. (Predictably, bad words crop up here and there, but for the most part they are harmless.) Although Under My Skin remains at the top, the aforementioned materials housed in these two albums are instant pick-me-up that are fun to listen to. Not to mention addicting and downright catchy. You may not like her music, but it’s hard to resist the pull of her choruses (which are often sung in high(er) pitch, if not at the top of the lungs).
So what if she works around youthful theme a lot? It is more of reminiscing adolescence than say, refusing to embrace adulthood anyway. Even she admits that “those days are long gone.” Back in the day songs is something that only people who have grown past it can appreciate. Opts for maturer sound? Spin any of her slower songs.
I’ve been a fan since Sk8er boi/I’m with you era, and am happy that Avril keeps producing songs that not only i can relate to but also sound like the spunky gal i grew to like more than a decade ago. And if she continues making songs that hit home and releasing a great album every two years or so, i am a happy camper 🙂