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CD: Avril Lavigne - Head Above Water | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Avril Lavigne - Head Above Water

CD: Avril Lavigne - Head Above Water

One strong song, but elsewhere the sound doesn't seem to have evolved

Has the Sk8er Boi singer finally grown up?

Avril Lavigne was the original Punk Pop Queen. Fearless, feisty and perfectly fitting for the early noughties as the manufactured antithesis of Britney and Christina, she was the rebellious antidote alongside the likes of Pink and Gwen Stefani. After a six-year hiatus, a battle with Lyme Disease, a divorce and a new millionaire boyfriend she’s back with what I was hoping would be a new, evolved sound that mirrored the growth from angsty teen sensation to mature female musician, working with her distinctive sound and vocal prowess.

Her new album is capped up with a strong piano ballad, the title track “Head Above Water”, which looks like a shift into realms of real life. It talks of struggles with her health maybe, or getting through a difficult time. It has a powerful melody, is emotionally charged and sounds grown-up. But what comes next is a re-visit of tunes about teenage issues, called things like “Crush”, “Bigger Wow”, “Souvenir” and “Love Me Insane”. Many of the tracks – epitomised by “Tell Me It's Over” – are the kind of songs that you will grow out of by the time you're 18. Which in a sense is fine – “Dumb Blonde”, which is too close to Gwen Stefani’s "Hollaback Girl" for my liking, is the kind of song I’d be happy for my nine-year-old to learn as a fun feminist tome and yell at boys in the playground.

But Lavigne is almost 34. When will her sound grow up? “Souvenir” and “Bigger Wow” have the old “he-yeah-a-yeah” motif and the second song contains the lines “Just like kites, unafraid of those heights, 'Cause sooner or later, I just want a bigger wow, I'm not complaining, If you throw me up, I won't come down”, by which point I am laughing out loud.

I had hoped “Goddess” and “Warrior” – yogic and powerful as they sound – would develop on a theme of self-understanding and fulfilment, but the first is screechy syncopation about how she is treated by a man and the second, while perhaps one of her most authentic to date, still lacks in depth.

Perhaps my expectations were too high – after all, this is someone whose last album, written at the age of 29, had a lead single called "Here’s To Never Growing Up". But I am left feeling like I too, had wanted “A Bigger Wow”.

Her new album is capped up with a strong piano ballad, the title track, which looks like a shift into realms of real life

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Editor Rating: 
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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Yeah, the thing you have to understand about Avril is that she actually is kind of a dumb blonde. She just doesn't have all that much to draw on when she's on her own. She needs other people to do the heavy lifting or her work is crap. The only thing about Avril that is legitimately hers, and legitimately cool was her rejection of pop culture and the whole process of celebrity. Remember when she wore a t-shirt from her own closet on Saturday Night Live, and then made fun of her own fans for slavishly copying her? Unfortunately she gave that up on her third album when she decided she wanted to be a pop star after all, and that was pretty much it for her. She's been struggling for relevance ever since. That's the tragedy of Avril Lavigne. She gave up what made her special and appealing because she decided she'd rather play the pop star game, but it turned out that she was just so very bad at it.

In 2007 when I have a release the best damn thing it was the number one selling album by a female that year she was also the biggest selling female in the world that year. Unfortunately for her her record label released very poor follow up singles to the #1 Girlfriend, instead of anthems like I CAN DO BETTER, RUNAWAY, or the biggest oversight which was INNOCENCE. She had the next record ready to go shortly after but had to battle her label, RCA who felt it wasn’t “pop enough” and sat on it for nearly two years making it four years between THE BEST DAMN THING and GOODBYE LULLABY. I’m sorry but her Star was still extremely bright and she would’ve experienced the same kind of cycle We saw with Kelly Clarkson on her my December album... which was not the glossy produced pop record it’s predecessor had been, but true fans would’ve welcomed a less peppy record... NOT ENOUGH, I LOVE YOU, PUSH, or EVERYBODY HURTS could’ve been a first single, with WISH YOU WERE HERE to follow... but instead it sat on a shelf until she finally agreed to go to Sweden and make WHAT THE HELL with Max Martin... by the time the album got released music had welcomed Lady Gaga, Kesha, and Katy Perry among others... and when you get no promo for an album even though your previous was the best selling in the world by a female a few years prior, I kind of think she got totally fucked over... Cut to the 2013 self titled release... a way better record than was given credit for (Hello Kitty could have been cut out...), and I still get sad thinking of the # 1 that should’ve been with the epic ROCK N ROLL... and GIVE YOU WHAT YOU LIKE was one of the best songs she has ever recorded but wasn’t released... the music was there, but unfortunately the best tracks sat the bench in favor of lame diets with Chad Kroger and whatever Hello Kitty was supposed to be... I still dream about a Manson and Avril video for BAD GIRL too... If you ever saw her live the girl is incredible in concert too... she may have decided to play the pop star part but she certainly wasn’t bad at it, as I noted she sold more records that year than any other female artist in the world and toured very successfully for nearly a year. She was a victim of a greedy label wanting GIRLFRIEND2.0... and severely damaging her career as a result. She may have had some missteps, but has sold over 50million records in her nearly two decade career... if that’s bad, sign me up...

Typically love your reviews... but you missed the mark on this record. Tracks 1-4 are a huge growth and show more maturity than her previous work ever has... DUMB BLONDE is fun but admittedly juvenile... but It WAS IN ME, souvenir , goddess, and warrior all get back to a much more adult sound than she delivered before this point... I think it’s funny but I don’t recall people asking when Gwen Stefani or Fergie would grow up during the Hollaback Girl or Fergalicious eras? Maybe it’s Avrils in your face attitude that rubs folks the wrong way? My biggest problem with your review is TELL ME ITS OVER, which you said anyone past 18 would dismiss... but I doubt many kids under 18 would get the meaning intended here , and if they do maybe their own parents should slow down their sexual revolution because I found this song very adult and a huge leap forward stylistically as well as a new sound embracing more soulful influences... one of the albums several standouts... Overall it took me back to the first two Avril albums... the best two in my opinion... standout tracks are title track, BIRDIE, tell me it’s over, IT WAS IN ME and SOUVENEIR

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