x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Lavigne’s fifth album feels like a return to first principles: snotty teen rebellion.

Avril Lavigne Avril Lavigne (Sony) ⋆⋆⋆

Not that there’s any straight­forward way for a teenage pop idol to grow up, but Avril Lavigne’s marriage this year to Chad Kroeger, the frontman of the grizzled Canadian rockers Nickelback, certainly raised a few eyebrows. Lavigne is still fixed in the popular psyche as the bratty 17-year-old who cracked Top 10s across the world with the 2002 single Sk8er Boi, a frothy teen romance that took Blink 182-style pop-punk and dramatically amplified the pop. Such bubblegum is far from Nickelback’s morbidly serious post-grunge and we get our first glimpse of “Chavril” on Let Me Go, a duet that, with its moody instrumentation – sombre pianos, swooping cellos – and general overwrought emotion, feels both stodgy and cloying. Luckily, elsewhere Lavigne’s fifth album feels like a return to first principles. Rock N Roll and Here’s to Never Growing Up suggest that, even at 29, she can pull off snotty teen rebellion. The part-rapped Hello Kitty bolts on some dubstep wobble with a limited sort of success, but the album’s finest experiment comes on Bad Girl, an enjoyably hammy stomp featuring a croaky cameo from Marilyn Manson.