Sound — 8
Musically, Under My Skin is a much better album than Let Go. Avril has worked with a variety of collaborative musicians rather than "The Matrix" team and the album is so much better off for it. While I still wouldn't call this a rock album, there are some decent riffs and nice instrumentation this time around, particularly from the guitars and keys. Some tracks even feature some nice string orchestrations, and overall the sound is more mature than Let Go. There is still an underlying sense throughout that this is a pop album, but rather than aspiring to be something that it's not, it revels in being pop while drawing elements from other genres.
Lyrics — 4
I have to be honest, the lyrics here aren't all that impressive. They're simple and predictable. I found myself at times, through the first listen of each song, being able to almost tell exactly what the next line would be. I really can't see how anyone could think much of this album is a lyrical achievement; if you do, I strongly suggest you get out and listen to some lyrically stronger bands. Perhaps on the same "Average" standard is Avril's delivery of the lyrics. At times she seems almost careless, as if she has no connection with what she's singing at all. Come on Avril, you had much more involvement in writing this album than Let Go, so why don't you sound like it's personal? Somehow this emotionlessness doesn't make the album soulless as well; why is beyond me, but somehow this empty delivery is still aurally pleasant - Avril's voice itself is far more developed than on the first album. With all that said, despite at times disappointing lyrics and simple vocal delivery, it all comes together to sound quite appealing (particularly with the musical standard as discussed above) and I do enjoy it; however I can't justify a higher score.
Overall Impression — 8
Compared to Let Go, Avril's second effort is a much better outing. The lyrical work isn't always as good as on the freshman album, but it's important to keep in mind how much more input Avril had into the writing of this album and as such it becomes almost excusable in the sense that Under My Skin is Avril's first real shot at writing an album. A number of collaborations have paid off well, Chantal Kreviazuk helped on much of the album and Ben Moody's (ex-Evanescence) presence on 'Nobody's Home' is both obvious and pleasing, for me creating easily the best track on the album. It's difficult to really rate this album, as I'm torn between the fact that I think it warrants a 3 and that I want to give it a 4. The truth is that it doesn't really deserve a 3 because it is so much more enjoyable than to be called average. If you liked Let Go, you'll love Under My Skin.