Avril Lavigne – [Album]

Monday, 07 March 2011

The four years that have lapsed since Avril Lavigne released The Best Damn Thing and smashed the world over the head with another kiddie pop anthem (“Girlfriend”) have been an incredibly turbulent time for the singer. In 1460 days, Lavigne has been married, broken into Hollywood, been divorced, toured the world on the strength of The Best Damn Thing, founded a clothing line and a line of fragrances, started work on a new album a couple of times and been at the center of a tornado of tabloid headlines and attention. Even the most transient fan is aware of those things and, as a result, would concede that virtually anyone would be exhausted from that much time in the spotlight; it's a hell of a lot of exposure to absorb, and that some of those experiences would manifest in Lavigne's new music is almost expected. It is possible to pick some of the experiences, joys and traumas out  in the run-time of Goodbye Lullaby, but the reaction that this new album most clearly represents is how those experiences and situations have forced Avril Lavigne to grow up; there is a drier, more resigned view expressed through the fourteen (eighteen if you've got the Deluxe CD/DVD edition) songs on Goodbye Lullaby.

The change in view expressed on Goodbye Lullaby appears (almost) right away in the first single from the album, “What The Hell,” where Avril Lavigne (very melodically) sneers, “All my life I've been good, but now/I'm thinking what the hell/All I want is to mess around and I don't care about/If you love me, if you hate me/you can't save me.” In effect, when all is said and done, Lavigne stakes her claim and implies that this is HER record. She has made Goodbye Lullaby for herself first and everything (and everyone) else second.

With that first statement of intent made, the floodgates open and what follows it is a compendium of kiss-offs from the singer to those who think she can't evolve as a singer. It's backed by music that always suits the emotional center of each song, but doesn't go out of its' way to sketch much of the connective tissue in between tracks. Songs including “Push,” “Wish You Were Here” (which marks the first occasion where Avril Lavigne shoots for a more adult, contempo-casual vibe), “Stop Standing There” and “Everybody Hurts” each turn on a set of stylistic dimes and don't exactly seem like they should tell any sort of coherent story but, if one looks at the movements between songs, it sort of does. For example, if one charts the progression from “Smile” (which opens with the lines, “You know that I'm a crazy bitch/I do what I want when I feel like it”) to “Stop Standing There” (where the singer laments, “All this talking to you/I don't know what I'm to do”) to “I Love You” (which is surprisingly straightforward and self-explanatory), one will find a singer trying to reconcile her public and private personae and, on top of that, reconcile both with the fact that she's a little older, has some more miles and lessons logged and doesn't feel like the kid who wrote “Sk8r Boi” anymore. It's a confounding position to be in certainly but, as Lavigne begins reminiscing about easier times gone by in “Remember When” (where her loneliness is palpable against a piano backing) and then closes out the record with a (mostly) dry-eyed and resigned “Goodbye,” there does seem to be a resolution reached and a balance struck. The resolution is bittersweet because that not everything is alright is pretty plain, but it's enough to ensure that the singer will be able to move forward in a meaningful way with her career. There are some pains on Goodbye Lullaby as Avril Lavigne works her way through a pretty profound emotional growth spurt, but the album also establishes a new carte blanche for whichever record will follow it. With one book closed here, Avril Lavigne will have the freedom to actually do what she wants on the follow-up.



Goodbye Lullaby
comes out via RCA/Sony Music on March 8, 2011. Pre-order it here on Amazon .

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