If you think Avril Lavigne is just back to relive her glory days as the Princess of Pop-punk with new album ‘Love Sux’, you only need to listen to opening track ‘Cannonball’ to be proved wrong.
Sure, the song starts with a burst of buoyant guitars and the angsty scream of “like a ticking time bomb, I’m about to explode”, but less than 20 seconds in, the tune veers drastically into hyper-pop territory. This furious electro dance opener sets the scene perfectly as Lavigne’s seventh album bounds between comforting Warped Tour nostalgia and something entirely new.
And why would Lavigne be interested in only celebrating the past anyway? It was 20 years ago that the Canadian star broke through with debut album ‘Let Go’. While the likes of Blink-182 and Sum 41 were celebrated for their snotty, guitar-driven anthems, Lavigne was called a ‘poser’. A fake. She may have inspired a generation of girls to pick up a guitar, but she was never welcomed as part of the scene.
Things are hopefully a little less misogynistic these days. ‘Love Sux’ is being released by Travis Barker of Blink’s DTA Records and features appearances from scene titans Machine Gun Kelly, Mark Hoppus (the bopping ‘All I Wanted’ is a highlight) and US singer-songwriter blackbear. At no point is Lavigne asking for acceptance, though.
From the ‘Sk8r Boi’ referencing ‘Bois Lie’ to the snarling ‘Bite Me’, Love Sux’ is an unapologetic blast of self-empowerment. While her 2019 album ‘Head Above The Water’ was a cathartic, emotional pop-facing purge, ‘Love Sux’ deals with shitty relationships and the electricity of a first kiss. The title track is dripping in attitude while ‘Kiss Me Like The World Is Ending’ is a euphoric, urgent anthem.
‘Avalanche’ finds Lavigne, now 37, just as confused as she was on her 2002 breakout track ‘Complicated’ (“I wish my life came with instructions”, she laments on the new song) but with a delicious, synth-driven breakdown, she’s far more self-assured here.
A majority of the songs on ‘Love Sux’ clock in at under three minutes, giving the record a fiery sense of purpose. From the fraught emotion behind the vulnerable, delicate ballad ‘Dare To Love Me’ to the snarling guitars of ‘Déjà Vu’, every moment on the album is deliberately melodramatic.
Like Willow Smith’s ‘Lately I Feel Everything’ and everything Cleveland’s Kennyhoopla has put his name to, ‘Love Sux’ is a progressive pop-punk album that eschews the old rules – but not at the expense of maximalist, joyful guitar anthems.
Release date: February 25
Record label: DTA Records