Avril Lavigne is back after a six year break with her sixth album Head Above Water, however unfortunately it can be described in one word. Forgettable. After listening to the album as a whole, apart from the exception a few, the songs all blur together with similar rhythms, tones and generic lyrics.
The album opens with the title track, and this does in fact give the album promise as Lavigne shows off her strong vocals which were perhaps overlooked in her Sk8ter Boi years. The song expresses the singer’s emotions after her battle with Lyme disease which nearly killed her. Through praying to God, the singer found a new strength which powerfully resonates in
this ballad. Yet whilst this song sets the record up to be something great, it peaks too early and disappoints from here on in. While the message in ‘Birdie’ of breaking free and having confidence in yourself is an important one, the song seems to be a bit of a cliché and has an easily forgettable tune.
‘Dumb Blonde’, the most typical pop track of the album, which features rap sensation Nicki Minaj, lives up to what it seems to want to avoid being, a cheap pop song. The song sounds as if it was constructed in 5 minutes with Lavigne’s voice sounding incredibly Americanised (odd as she isn’t American) and almost like a cheerleader’s chant as she sings “I ain’t no dumb blonde/ I ain’t no stupid Barbie Doll”. I’m sure the song is supposed to muster up some form of feisty girl power, but lyrically it is unimaginative.
Similarly, ‘Goddess’ light acoustic melody is ruined with the empty lyrics “He thinks I'm sexy in my pyjamas/ The more I am a hot mess/ The more he goes bananas”. I mean did she listen to this back? How can an album open with a ballad like ‘Head Above Water’ and descend into this? The backing melody has promise, yet the lyrics over it aremeaningless and uninspired.
This was Lavigne’s chance at launching her second career, breaking away from the angsty teenager we are so used to. However, the result of this evolution to adulthood is an artist who’s sound replicates that of any insignificant pop artist with no originality. If there is anything this record definitely does, it confirms we have lost the ballsy girl from ‘Complicated’ and whilst she proves she can still belt out a ballad, I do not suppose for one second that ‘Head Above Water’ will have anywhere near the legacy that songs like ‘I’m With You’ or ‘When You’re Gone’ have succeeded in having. While I fully support artists evolving and find it exciting listening to their new sounds, in this case Lavigne’s new record is impersonal, uninventive and boring, with her old image still trumping the new without a shadow of a doubt.