If there was any doubt that Avril Lavigne doesn’t write her own songs, that can be laid to rest with Goodbye Lullaby, her fourth album. Of course, this is in reference to her first record Let Go in which she was accused of not writing the songs in which she was given writing credit for on all of the its tracks. It’s easy to see when comparing that record to her newest one that they were written with the same pen; the only common factor being Avril herself. This is indicated by the simplistic nature of most of the lyrics, how she rhymes, which words she chooses to rhyme and how she expresses herself in the songs themselves. Not much has changed.
Avril’s previous record The Best Damn Thing was heavy with songwriting collaborations, most notably Dr. Luke and Butch Walker, who are two of the most prominent songwriters/producers in pop music over the last five years. Luke is also credited for bringing names like Katy Perry and Ke$ha to the forefront of pop music while also providing major hits with acts like Flo Rida, Britney Spears, Pink and Miley Cyrus to name a few. It would have been a logical choice for Avril to continue working with him to ensure a successful record this time around as well (he co-wrote her #1 hit Girlfriend). But admirably she chose not to. And a good decision it was considering most of the monotonous sounds that come from the radio today are at the hands of Luke.
Instead, Avril co-wrote only half of the songs on this record with a collaborator. Three of which were written with long-time guitarist Evan Taubenfeld while four are with the team of Max Martin and Shellshock, who collectively are known for their work on co-writing and producing recent hits from Britney Spears (3 and If You Seek Amy) and Pink (Fucking Perfect and Raise Your Glass). Most likely this collaboration was at the hands of the label to ensure Avril had a few guaranteed tracks for radio’s current climate, including the first single What The Hell. A song that channels a less in-your-face Girlfriend. It’s true to Avril as we know her but not quite a perfect fit for the rest of the album.
Most of Goodbye Lullaby focuses on the topic of breaking up, which may be awkward considering the man behind most of the album’s slick production would be the subject of the songs, ex-husband Deryck Whibley. But while most of the album may be sombre, there’s still a lot of decent melodies on here, the best example being Push. Avril does have talent in that respect. The biggest thing that made Let Go the perfect pop record was how insanely catchy every song was, even if the lyrics were silly and sometimes embarrassingly childish but it was an incredibly fun album.
While easily being her worst album, it seems like The Best Damn Thing was the one that stood closest to Avril’s persona and was probably the most authentic she has ever been in the studio. With this record, it feels like she’s conflicted between trying to be herself while also trying to write mature, from-the-heart songs and it’s obvious she can’t do both convincingly. The effort is here, however and she almost all but strips away any sense of the punk-girl she tried to be with her first album and the pop-punk bitch she was with her third, with the exception of the album’s worst track Smile which start off “You know that I’m a crazy bitch/I do what I want when I feel like it/All I wanna do is lose control/Oh Oh/But you don’t really give a shit/You go with it, go with it, go with it/Cause you’re fucking crazy roll ‘n roll.”
Goodbye Lullaby is a decent album from Avril all things considered. Sonically, it’s a mixture of her first two records. On paper, it sounds like a great idea because both records were great in their own respects, but the end result isn’t as impressive as imagined. I feel like the best thing Avril can do once this project wraps up is to try to make respectable connections with some other names in music and arts and to focus on something other than trying to make herself appear authentic if she wants to mature as an artist and advance beyond the juvenile surface of the songs she does write. It’s clear she does need a collaborator but it would be in her best interest to have one with a respected track-record that can share her idea on what she wants to achieve with recording without focusing on trying to get a hit record. This is all assuming she wants to go in the direction that Goodbye Lullaby is indicating in relation to The Best Damn Thing. The desire is there to move on but she needs that helping hand from someone who’s been there. (Pink immediately comes to mind.) Otherwise, Avril has given what was expected from her and is sure to please fans of Let Go and Under My Skin but not likely to achieve the same level of achievement that either of her past three records have done.
1. Black Star
2. What The Hell
4. Wish You Were Here
6. Stop Standing There
7. I Love You
8. Everybody Hurts
9. Not Enough
10. 4 Real
12. Remember When