Written Before Listen
Surprise Surprise, the 2000s kid is listening to an Avril Lavigne album for the first time. I grew up with a lot of her hits such as “Girlfriend”, “Sk8er Boi” and “Complicated” but here I am finally listening to an actual album of hers and here I am. The Pop Punk superstar is back with an album that is allegedly a return to form, so let’s see what Avril has in store for us. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
It’s hard to mention influences when Avril Lavigne herself was part of that era, but this album sounds super derivative. Is it a bad thing to take influences? Not at all, most of the time it’s a good thing, but I don’t know if Avril does a good job. First off, Avril was never the strongest pop-punk musician in the book as it was more of an aesthetic than a musical style she showed in her music. Also, I think her punk songs were the tackiest in her catalog. Songs like “Complicated” honestly aged better than songs like “Sk8er Boi” and “Girlfriend”. She also takes influence from the most exaggerated pop punk acts such as Fall Out Boy, Paramore, and All American Rejects. Surely Green Day and The Offspring are there too but we all know that Avril focused less on the punk and more on the pop.
I will say right now that my favorite part of this album is easily the production. The guitars are crispy, the digital instruments breathe through the tracks, and Avril’s vocals shine through the whole album. Most importantly, the drums are produced insanely well. I don’t know if Travis Barker comes in knowing how to mix his drums but every record he’s on recently has immaculately produced drums. The kick and snare boom through the mix and the cymbals are perfectly put on the mix. It’s manipulated at points but it easily sounds analog as hell. I think what makes most pop punk enjoyable is that the production is high budget but it doesn’t sound overproduced, and despite the derivative sound, the album is produced pretty damn well.
I talked about my favorite part of the album, now let’s talk about my least favorite part of this album and the pop punk revival itself, it’s too devoted to one time period without moving the genre forward. I know it’s supposed to be punk but nearly every genre (including punk) has to evolve in some way. Surely the production is modern but the music itself isn’t. The best modern pop punk brings in unique lyrics or cool little genre bends that make the album enjoyable, but this is just strict emo pop punk.
For some reason, Avril Lavigne brings features on this album and bad ones. First off, we have one of the worst pop punk musicians of all time on the song “Bois Lie”. Two tracks later, we have “Love It When you Hate Me” with another artist I’m not big on, blackbear. It’s ok to have features that don’t create the best music, but Avril chose the two most generic artists attempting to bring back this pop punk sound. That’s like the equivalent of someone like Madonna creating an 80s dance pop revival and having features from Justin Bieber, Kid Laroi, and Charlie Puth. If Avril wanted to bring her pop punk sound back, I feel like she should’ve dug deeper for lesser known features, maybe including the three acts she has.
The song “Bite Me” was a really good promotional single for the album. It not only showed us that Avril was returning with her pop punk sound but it’s a kick-ass song as well. My favorite song on the other hand is definitely “FU”. It sounds like one of those big pop punk classics brought back to life. The dynamics, the anthemic hook, the songwriting, and everything in between are done with justice. Other than that, I respect the attempt, but I’m not sure if it winds up entertaining.
Well, it’s kind of what I expected. Avril Lavigne hasn’t made anything remotely close to a Pop Punk record in a long time as most of her modern stuff sounds more like adult contemporary music. She grew up, but now she sounds like she’s desperate for radio play again. I respect but I feel like that’s the only reason why she’s doing this. It doesn’t feel like she wants to do this, it feels like she has to. Needless to say, it’s still better than most of her most recent stuff.