DISCLAIMER: May contain traces of bias like everything else you read on social media networks.
Avril, Avril, Avril. Oh, what a disastrous era you have had. Time to put that behind you and spring back with a...self-titled album? Hmm, we'll take it, but keep in mind that you're on your fifth album and there's no need to pull a Demi Lovato on this one. Plus, what's up with that album cover...?
Fans have clamored for another Avril album after Goodbye Lullaby failed to impress. Although it had its fair share of top notch songs, her singles seemed to drop into the endless void of the iTunes charts (and every other chart, really...). Since sales are at a premium, it was time to change image and sound (like Lady Gaga does on a daily basis).
And so she has. Avril Lavigne is definitely a welcome departure from her previous album...but it sounds like an spinoff version of The Best Damn Thing (for all you forgotten people, that's her third album where she went all crazy with that Girlfriend song).
Here's to Never Growing Up was chosen as the debut single. Avril did relatively well with this release, but I feel Rock N' Roll was the better song and should have performed better. Luckily, its video was extremely creative: who thinks of a bearshark? Not to mention that tribute to Slash which is always respectful, even if your music is pop.
17 is one of the best tracks on this record. For diehard Avril fans, this is a no-brainer: it reminisces her Let Go debut era, and even she is nostalgic: "those times are long gone, but when I hear that song, it takes me back". It has incredible single potential with a killer hook that only really falls short to Complicated. I'll be very disappointed if she doesn't cash in on this opportunity.
Bitchin' Summer sounds like something you could play during the credits of Spring Breakers (if you manage to make it that far in the movie). Love the hook, but lyrics are a letdown (essentially: getting drunk, partying, maybe the occasional DUI). Still having mixed feelings about the rap, but I feel that Avril could just make it to the finals of 8 Mile.
Let Me Go sounds like a song that failed to make the cut of Nickelback's last album (don't ask me how many they have). Based on popular culture, does this mean you should avoid it like a live Selena Gomez performance? Surprisingly, no. It's actually astonishing how well Avril and Chad's voices go together, as they deliver a great ballad here.
Give You What You Like is above average, though it tries to fool you into thinking it's the best ballad on this record. The lyrics aren't enough to justify it, leaving only Avril's consistently good vocals to do the work. While they succeed, they fall short of what could have been a slightly better song. When paired in a vote against Hello Kitty for next single, the results should be a blowout win for GYWYL.
Bad Girl is where Avril really hit the jackpot. I was skeptic of this collaboration with Marilyn Manson, but it turned out fantastic. It's rock at its very best (for Avril standards). This should most definitely make the cut of the 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack: Avril wants her ego fed (you know, just like Anastasia Steele), while the mysterious Marilyn - ahem, Christian Grey - screams to not tell her what to do. Sex in a rock package.
Avril comes unstuck with Hello Kitty. Her Japanese skills are equivalent to a "fat kid on a pack of smarties" watching the latest filler of Naruto while trying to become a ninja. It's just not happening, no matter how many times she repeats "kawaii".
You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet is quite possibly the most desperate attempt at a sex song of her discography (and she has many in that department), but it's damn catchy. It's impossible to resist its fast-paced beat, although some repetitiveness is present.
How can you not smile while listening to Sippin' on Sunshine? Its cute metaphors of that beautiful summer day are great. Couple that with its melody and you have a keeper here.
Hello Heartache, more like Goodbye Lullaby all over again. This song starts out "à la Avril" - with the repeated 'la la la's - and ends in the same manner. It seems that apart from a couple of good lines, Avril's heart wasn't the only thing in pain here.
Falling Fast sounds and feels like a Taylor Swift song. It's quite shocking to listen to how versatile Avril can be with her vocals. This raises the question: will that be her next sound direction? Maybe not, but Avril has always been a pop-rock princess with a pinch of randomness.
There are some songs that initially don't steal the spotlight, but gradually creep up the charts and become major hits. Conversely, Hush Hush is like that girl at high school that you never noticed, and now she's a Victoria's Secret model. It evokes adrenaline-packed emotions: sadness, anger, desperation, remorse and...hope. At its most simplistic form, this is the track that defines Avril Lavigne. A golden masterpiece.
In essence, Avril is your unique pop-rock chick (excuse me, married woman) that thinks the idea of rock n' roll is getting wasted on the nearest bottle, running down the street yelling obscenities and having sex every day and twice on weekends. Actually...it probably is. But she still has time to deliver amazing ballads that knock the socks off many artists on the charts. It's Avril, no strings attached, varying between her forte - slow tempo songs (major bonus points for the gem named "Hush Hush") - and those immature but catchy pop tunes. Replay value if you can skip "Hello Kitty".
It won't dethrone Let Go as my top Avril Lavigne album, but it's a solid and fresh effort that builds on her eleven year old career.
Final rating: A- (89/100)