The first studio album in three years from the “Pop Punk Queen,” Avril Lavigne, delivers on all of its potential. Her seventh album in total, Love Sux was produced by veteran hit-maker John Feldman (among others including Mod Sun and Travis Barker) and has a ton of aggressive and hard-hitting songs that are sure to grab your attention. In a recent interview with NYLON Magazine, Lavigne shared this about the direction of the new record, “This is the first one that’s just rock all the way through. There was a point in music where the label was like, ‘Radio don’t want to hear guitars anymore.’ Live drums went away. Live electric guitars weren’t getting played. There’s always been that fine line that I’m going to make my music that I’m feeling but also you have a company behind you who influences what you’re doing.” This dedication to making the music she was driven to create makes for one of her most accessible and rewarding albums to date.
On the speedy opener, “Cannonball,” Lavigne sings in a quick cadence, “You did me dirty, now I’m gone, I’m living life without you / I just wrote a song, it goes, ‘I don’t give a fuck about ya’ / And I’ll be happy if we never speak again / I just deleted every memory from inside of my head,” and its clear that she is ready to put her past behind her. The song prominently features some great electric guitar moments and some great drum fills too. “Bois Like” quickly follows the crowd-pleasing opener with a cameo from Machine Gun Kelly, who helps with harmonies on the chorus as well as his own verse. The back and forth element between the two rockers works best on the bridge of, “I heard your little story / And you talk way too much / Why don’t you say “I’m sorry”? / Is it asking way too much? / Okay, I’m losing all my patience / God, you make me anxious / I don’t do that fake shit / Say it to my face then / I threw it all away again last night / So why don’t you just look me in the eyes.”
My personal favorite comes on the single “Bite Me,” that showcases Lavigne’s impressive vocal range on the opening line of “Hey you,” that sounds like a siren call from the pop-punker. Lavigne expresses no regrets on a past relationship as she sings, “I bet you taste me on the tip of your tongue / Tip of your tongue, tip of your tongue / I fell fast when I know I shoulda run / Know I shoulda run, know I shoulda run,” and takes it all in stride as she comes to terms with growing up.
”Love It When You Hate Me,” is a mid-tempo rocker that features a rapped guest spot from Blackbear. The two complement each other well in between lyrical lines as Lavigne continues to showcase her growth as an artist. The chorus of, “Don’t call me baby / I love it when you hate me / I know it’s crazy / I love it when you hate me / The highs, the lows, the yes, the no’s / You’re so hot when you get cold / Don’t call me baby / I love it when you hate me,” focuses on the complexities of going through difficult relationships.
”Love Sux” follows with a different sounding guitar tone and some well-placed keyboards in the verses to bring a little bit of variety to the set. This song in particular focuses on the theme of heartbreak and loss, while Lavigne still remains optimistic of better days ahead. Things take a turn towards the more romantic on “Kiss Me Like The World Is Ending,” a fairly straight-forward pop-punk track about living each day to its fullest. The song rocks with positive momentum as it builds to the crowd-pleasing chorus of, “Kiss me just like the world is ending / Give me one last perfect memory / I don’t want to say goodbye / Let’s meet up after we die / So kiss me just like the world is ending.” Lavigne sounds incredibly rejuvenated by this new partnership with Travis Barker’s record label, and she continues to take full advantage of making an album that stays true to her.
One of the rare ballads in the set comes on “Avalanche,” where Lavigne sings about what it feels like to try so hard to be okay, when everything around us appears to be crumbling to its core. The song builds steady momentum as it unfolds, and still doesn’t detract away from the speedy tempo of the earlier material. “Deja Vu” follows the well-balanced ballad with some well-crafted four chord punk rock that allows for Lavigne to showcase her steadily improving vocal range.
Things get back on the quicker pace with “F.U.” an aggressive-tinged punk rock song about not giving a fuck about what others think about you and still remaining true to yourself. The relatable chorus of, “Every time I talk to you / (You’re not listening, you’re not listening) / I waste my breath on you / (You’re not listening, you’re not listening) / I try to tell you about it / I yell, I scream and I shout it / Hate it, but it’s true / I’m fucking over you,” showcases a one-sided relationship where one person is spilling their guts to the other, and the person couldn’t care less. It’s a heartbreaking situation, but Lavigne takes it all in stride as she crafts another great anthem about overcoming the odds.
”All I Wanted” sounds like a classic Blink-182-stylized track, so it’s no wonder why this song features Mark Hoppus’s vocals on it to further round out the sound Lavigne was going for on Love Sux. The second verse of, “I would always fuck around and find out / You were always saying I would crash down someday / I would have to pass out on our friends couch / We were up all night so we slept all day / I remember waiting on the sunrise / And I’ll be right here waiting ’til you come back around / Come back around, come back around,” finds Lavigne and Hoppus trading lyrics in-between each line, and it makes for a compelling story.
The second true ballad on the record comes on “Dare To Love Me,” a piano-laced slowed down track that allows for Lavigne to focus on the heartache for the audience to cry along with her. The heartbreaking lyrics of “I know it’s a slippery slope (Slope) / But I don’t wanna give up hope / Damn, why’s it gotta be this hard just to open my heart?” are really authentic and bring the listener in even closer to the style she was going for here.
The last song, “Break of a Heartache,” is a perfect way to end an incredibly fun and enjoyable album. The sped-up chords allow for Lavigne to command the song from the beginning and never let go until she leaves the listener with just the right taste in their mouths as they clamor for more. Overall, Lavigne is able to re-capture her crown of the “Pop Punk Queen” with veteran ease as she has made a record that is utterly listenable from front to back, and gives a positive outlook on her next musical steps forward. Avril Lavigne may not be for everyone, but I’m sure as hell here for this.