STOP YOUR LIFE.
After nearly a decade of anticipation, Avril Lavigne has finally recorded a song that is as good as “Complicated.”
There’s always been a curious dichotomy in Avril’s sound. Since the beginning, half of her music has been a product of the hyperactive Dr. Luke punk-lite school of pop — “Sk8er Boi,” “Girlfriend,” “What the Hell” — songs that are bratty and infectious and inevitably grow grating after a few spins. But, to me, the more interesting component of Avril’s image is the more sullen, emotive side–the disillusioned girl who’s had it with posers (“Complicated”) and players (“Don’t Tell Me”) and, most intriguingly, loneliness (“I’m With You”). This bifurcation isn’t a bad thing, but it does mean that you never know quite what you’re going to get with a new Avril LP.
Goodbye Lullaby sets a tone of unapologetic angst with the title–glad to see there’s no growing up for our neighbor to the north–then alternates wildly between bratty Avril and pouty Avril, but it’s a relief to discover that both camps are equally hook-driven. The best track on the album, though, is easily “Wish You Were Here,” the best midtempo in Avril’s canon since she debuted with “Complicated” in 2002.
Its hook–“Damn, damn, damn, what I’d do to have you near, near, near, I wish you were here”–is an irresistible earworm, the chord progression evokes Paramore‘s understated pop gem “The Only Exception,” and muscular production from masters Max Martin and Shellback enlivens the track with crunchy guitars and a hypnotic drumbeat. “Wish You Were Here” is a throwback to the early-naughties pop-rock sound promulgated by production team The Matrix, when gems like Avril’s own “Complicated,” Ashlee Simpson‘s “Pieces of Me,” and Hilary Duff‘s “So Yesterday” ruled the airwaves, but with a modern edge, and it works marvelously.
Reportedly, Avril will be releasing “Smile” as her next single, but “Wish You Were Here” simply needs to be released properly–it’s just too good to go ignored.
Goodbye Lullaby was released on March 4. (iTunes)