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Posted at 12:54 PM ET, 03/ 8/2011

Album review: Avril Lavigne, "Goodbye Lullaby"

By Allison Stewart

avril lavigneAvril Lavigne doesn't sound like she's having fun on "Goodbye Lullaby." (Tiziana Fabi/AFP Getty Images)

It was probably inevitable that the early '00s pop divas would start to release divorce albums. "Goodbye Lullaby," Avril Lavigne's first disc since her split from Sum 41 singer (and "Lullaby" co-producer) Deryck Whibley, is an album at war with itself, divided into uptempo pop songs meant to evoke the bratty Avril of old and lovelorn ballads meant to introduce a sadder, wiser, more grown-up Avril.

Lavigne, 26, pouts her way through two genuinely terrible, can't-be-tamed punk-pop songs, "Smile" and "What the Hell," both of which bear the heavy hand of super-producer Max Martin, but her heart isn't in it. Once a Hot Topic punk pioneer, she now sounds like a B-list Katy Perry who isn't having any fun.

But "Goodbye Lullaby" is at heart a breakup album, prone to pretty, indistinct heartbreak ballads with swelling strings. Some are generic ("Everybody Hurts," not an R.E.M. cover) and others ("Goodbye") are genuinely affecting, though there's something about Lavigne's voice that makes even the saddest songs seem callow; she has to work twice as hard as the average diva to avoid merely sounding annoyed.

"Lullaby" can't answer the obvious questions: Does anyone want to hear Avril Lavigne being sad? In a Gaga/Ke$ha universe, does anyone want to hear Avril Lavigne at all? It's a problem for which there may be no remedy. Unlike Pink, whose own breakup album "Funhouse" is turning out to be a model of the form, Lavigne isn't a formidable talent who needs only to be set free from her handlers. And unlike the uber-malleable Britney Spears, whose disembodied voice can be plugged into any sound, Avril can only sound like Avril, for better or worse.

Recommended tracks: "Darlin," "Goodbye"

By Allison Stewart  | March 8, 2011; 12:54 PM ET
Categories:  Quick spins  | Tags:  Avril Lavigne  
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Next: Album review: R.E.M., "Collapse Into Now"


What a waste of talent. And I don't say that lightly. I've criticized singers like Stacie Orrico for refusing to suck it up and do a commercial video even if that means showing her stomach, because it's better than waiting tables for the rest of your life. With that said, you don't need to destroy the integrity of who you are on an entire album, let alone 2, in the way Avril has done.

Her first album was original and a piece of artistry. Her previous one and this one even more so are just cash grabs. Fine, do that for 1 maybe 2 songs, make some money and then give your fans, the ones who made you rich, a decent album. She's basically become Britney Spears. Even Christina Aguilera knew the moment was over. She did one album (granted, it didn't sell), and then went back to what she really does best, singing songs.

I fail to see what is so grown up about this. The fact that she looks good in her underwear in a music video? I could have told you that after Skater Boy. Sure, it's eye candy, but after one horrible pop-infested album, she's at it again, this time reducing herself to making a Britney video, the kind I've always watched with the mute button on. Avril deserves a little better than that. Unfortunately, she doesn't know it. And they say this is a more "grown up" album. If "grown up" and clueless are synonyms, I guess.

At its best, punk rock is original and deep. At its worst, it's just bubble gum pop music for pretentious people who think they're so hardcore because they stopped listening to Britney and Christina. This is a Britney or Spice Girls album with electric guitars. Yawn. Oh Avril, what were you thinking?

Posted by: surfer_53 | March 8, 2011 2:56 PM | Report abuse

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