Sound — 7
For her latest record Goodbye Lullabye, pop queen Avril Lavigne apparently went against a specific stylistic direction intended by her record company RCA with results indicative of this decision. While the new record does have a few tracks like What the Hell, which play upon her watered-down pop punk side that made her famous in the first place, the bulk of the tracks are on the more introspective side. Rather than hearing a collection of overproduced, upbeat pop tracks, Goodbye Lullabye churns out mellow offering after mellow offering. One can certainly speculate on how much of the material was inspired by her divorce from Sum 41 frontman Deryck Whibley, but regardless of the root motivation, there are quite a few songs that revolve around love and love-gone-wrong in most cases. The record begins with the short-and-sweet intro Black Star, with a piano line (quite lullaby-like in itself) that is both simplistic and haunting. Along with Lavigne's cherubic vocals, Black Star is an effective opener befitting the rest of Goodbye Lullabye. Yes, there are tracks like What the Hell that are pop singles through and through, but they are definitely in the minority. Lavigne's writing process was stripped down for the new record, often with an acoustic and vocals initiating an idea. That's absolutely evident, as many of the songs do still begin with that same minimalist approach. While it's certainly respectable for Lavigne to follow her own vision this time around, Goodbye Lullabye does often fall stagnant. If you relish hearing love song after love song, then you won't necessarily find anything wrong with it. Lavigne does have an amazing way of making up for a dull song with a big, passionate chorus when all else fails. The nitpicking side of this reviewer also can't get over her decision to take on titles like Wish You Were Here and Everybody Hurts which just can't compare with their more famous namesakes. No matter how heartfelt her music may be, there just seems to be a lack of originality in the core songwriting both musically and lyrically.
Lyrics — 6
Emotions rule supreme on Goodbye Lullabye, so don't be expect a whole lot of material in the vein of Sk8er Boi. Smile is a 180-degree different approach to anything else on the record, with Lavigne calling herself a crazy bitch and dropping the F bomb. Once she gets that out of her system, she dedicates pretty much the rest of the record to talk of emotions. Whether she's declaring, I can't wait to see your face (Stop Standing There) or imploring her lover, Tell me you feel the same (Real), she delves into the world of relationships pretty thoroughly. The final songs Remember When and Goodbye are the most solemn out of everything, and the lyrical content ends on a fairly somber note.
Overall Impression — 7
One certainly doesn't expect an artist pop star or otherwise to regurgitate the same style record after record. While Lavigne has written a record that is close to her heart and those emotional come through loud and clear, musically it falls flat in many places. Low-key or mellow arrangements aren't a bad thing, but the songwriting tends to get quite repetitive on Goodbye Lullaby. Lavigne should be given credit for not being a slave to the record label, but there are still plenty of single-worthy songs that should by no means alienate her from her core audience particularly given the fact that love songs always seem to be a shoe-in for radio airplay.