The icon that is Avril Lavigne has made a welcome return to music with her seventh studio album, Love Sux.
An uncompromising cultivator of the 00s pop-punk sound, this release is a testament to her legacy and influence. Every track boasts her signature catchy hooks and direct lyricism, covering the whole gamut of emotions experienced throughout love and heartbreak. It’s the kind of music that makes you want to sing along with a hairbrush in your bedroom (do people still do that?).
Lavigne makes a strong entrance to Love Sux, declaring in the opening of Cannonball, “Like a ticking time bomb, I’m about to EXPLOOODE!”. It’s as if we never left the 2000s, with Lavigne’s teenage-style angst still translating into adulthood, as well as appealing to the next generation experiencing heartbreak for the first time.
Layered over her classic guitar and drum-heavy instrumental is Lavigne’s blunt lyricism (“You lied and I got played”, Bite Me) that sticks firmly in your head after only one or two listens. Even on relatively mellower tracks like Love It When You Hate Me (feat. blackbear), the bolshy breakup defiance remains strong (“Don’t call me baby/I love it when you hate me”).
Amongst the angst, Lavigne raises some important points on Deja Vu, about how money is irrelevant in a relationship if you are not a good person. Furthermore, she questions herself frequently on the release (“Am I insane expecting you to change?” Deja Vu), exposing some vulnerability amongst the anger.
Although there are few collaborations on the release, Lavigne ensures her collaborators are fully immersed in their respective tracks. Machine Gun Kelly on Bois Lie provides the other side to Lavigne’s laments (ending the song with “Girls lie too”). Occasionally, Lavigne ventures into a softer side of her artistry, with a sparse plucked guitar texture accompanying her more reflective musings on Avalanche (“What do you do when the hero needs savin’?”). Despite occupying a different sound world than the rest of the release, the raw sentiments provide a refreshing honesty to the theme of breakup songs (“I say I’m just fine, but I don’t feel alright on the inside”).
Love Sux is the type of album you could put on shuffle when you’re feeling upset about relationships and it would provide you with release. At its essence, the album illustrates how love in adulthood is built on these raw feelings many of us first experience in adolescence. This is why this brand of pop-punk love songs is popular: it’s a language we all understand. Letting it all out is therapeutic no matter your age, hence why this sound continues to be popular across generations.