Sound — 8
Avril Lavigne is a Canadian pop artist who certainly comes from rock roots. Aside from the recent success of her music, Lavigne was in the news for marrying Nickelback frontman, Chad Kroeger. Fittingly, Kroeger makes a guest vocal appearance on the album and Lavigne covers the Nickelback song "How You Remind Me," which can be found with other covers on the CD's deluxe version. On the off chance that you have not heard of Avril Lavigne, you should be warned that she can easily be thrown in with the Katy Perrys and Miley Cyruses of the world. The percussion instruments are definitely programmed, like those in most mainstream pop and rap; many people find this a turn off (although the quality of the programming itself may be a turn off to begin with). So if you cannot stand this type of mainstream music, like some if not many of the users of UG, then you have been warned. The point of the aforementioned warning is to implore those who would troll to go do so elsewhere because the undeniable truth is that Avril Lavigne's music is respectable enough to warrant fair criticism and spirited yet civil debate. Actually, considering this is Ultimate-GUITAR.com, it is easy to give Avril Lavigne praise because the album's guitar work, in my opinion is the best part of the album. Obviously, the high school girls who listen to this will be listening for Lavigne's voice, which sounds somewhere between Adele and Taylor Swift, and her melodic hooks, which are certainly there. Somewhat as a gift to us, these songs that appeal primarily to the radio are easily discernible within the first couple of seconds, so it's pretty to avoid them and save the heartache and get to the meat of this album, which really isn't half-bad if you're willing to give it a chance. I will admit that most of Lavigne's choruses are cheap, tacky remakes of the standard pop song, but her guitar work, if you can find it, is really worth listening to. It's probably because I'm a guitarist, but I truly think that "Bad Girl," the only time when she prominently uses an electric guitar, is the best song on the album. The song has a catchy alternative, punk riff and Marilyn Manson's guest appearance is priceless and complements her vocal melodies, which are decently original, well. In addition, her acoustic guitar work is tasteful and creative even though it is confined to the limitations of the pop song structure (one of the most visible invisible walls in music). Other points of praise for this album are its seemingly silent, yet incredibly effective bass lines, the variety of the music, and its above average production. The production really makes this album shine, actually. Like a good producer should, the producer here suppresses the weaker points of the album and drives home the stronger ones. At the same time, the producer makes effective use of Lavigne's natural voice, recording it raw most of the time (I'm praying there's no autotune). There are really only a few instances when the vocals feel influenced by studio trickery. Her breathing is masterfully left in the mix and seems to be a major feature much of the time. Of course, I think this technique has been a trend in pop music, especially for the more heartfelt songs, but it nevertheless makes Avril Lavigne sound better than she would otherwise. What's more, her recorded acoustic guitar tone is excellent (for this, Lavigne should be given more credit than her producer should). I guess one of the morals of this story is that having a record company pump a seemingly endless supply of money into the production of an album really isn't that bad if you're the artist. The only negatives about the musical side of this album are the cheap, tacky chorus lines and the made-for-dance-clubs techno song, "Hello Kitty." Of course, these negatives, along with the use of programmed instruments, may be enough to negate the positives I mentioned, but this album is worth giving a listen because it is ahead (if only slightly) of the mainstream pop of Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus.
Lyrics — 6
OK, I'll admit it; Avril Lavigne has a great voice. But so does most everyone else in pop music. I guess it's easy enough to throw all pop singers into the same package and prematurely label their vocals uncreative and unoriginal. Nevertheless, I believe that pop singers can be held to a better standard. From that end, Avril Lavigne does not impress. While all of her melodies are catchy, almost all of them I could easily relate to a song that has previously been made famous. While this album has variety (she raps a bit), some may view that as a moot point if none of the variety is novel. Lyrically, this album relies primarily on the annoyingly old pop music subject of breaking up with boyfriends. Like her husband, Avril Lavigne attempts to stretch boundaries by cursing. I won't say the album is rife with cursing, but I will say that once that barrier is broken, she might as well use it to its full effectiveness. I think that her husband in Nickelback has found the most effective balance of cursing in his lyrics and she, in my opinion, has not found her perfect equilibrium yet. Personally, I think this album could be just as successful without the cursing. But, if she feels that she needs to a bit raunchy to gain an audience, she might as well go balls to the wall.
Overall Impression — 8
Once you free yourself of the mentality that pop music equals poison in all circumstances, it's easy to see that this album is a winner for the most part. Looking past some of the more annoying, pop-induced facets of this album, this album is still a fun listen that exhibits moments of musicianship at the moments when it is most needed. The best songs of the album are "Bad Girl" and "Sipping on Sunshine." And she does a kicka-s version of "Bad Reputation," just saying.