Avril Lavigne is rocking out like it’s 1999 on Goodbye Lullaby, her first album in four years.
In that time, Lavigne divorced from her husband of four years, Sum 41 lead singer and one of the producers on the album, Deryck Whibley. To cope, she has apparently been obsessively listening to Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill, because that album’s influence pervades Lavigne’s entire album.
Named after her latest fragrance, opener “Black Star” feels ready-made for a fragrance ad, with its short length and calm piano crescendos. She is no longer even attempting to maintain the “punk” cred of her “Sk8er Boi” days. The next song, single “What the Hell,” does little to dispel the commercialization of the Lavigne brand. It exemplifies Lavigne at her brattiest and laziest.
However, the album takes a new direction after that song. Not exactly more mature, Goodbye Lullaby becomes serious, examining the fragile nature of relationships. While the sound is a welcome relief from the compressed noise of “What the Hell,” the rest of the album glides along in a vanilla haze. The guitars, piano and violin of “Everybody Hurts” and other songs share their roots in the Morissette songs that dominated radio two decades ago.
If her music sounds catered to an adult contemporary station, her lyrics still reflect the ruminations of a sullen, angsty teenage girl stuck in the back of the classroom. They all reach superficial epiphanies on relationships, and Lavigne’s only way to show maturity is through curse words. According to her, love is hard, dammit.
At 26, Lavigne is long past being a teen idol, and she’s trying to prove it with Goodbye Lullaby. Unless she can begin to have a distinctive sound and lyrical maturity, I think she said it best in her first single, “Complicated”: “You’re trying to be cool/you like a fool to me.”
For fans of: Katy Perry, Alanis Morissette,
Number of tracks: 14