While fashion trends tend to run in 20-year cycles, if you take the career of Avril Lavigne into account, it would seem this also applies to music. This year marks 20 years since Canada’s celebrated pop-punk matriarch dropped her debut single “Complicated” on an unsuspecting public, so it’s only appropriate that she’s finding success through pivoting from her downtempo, faith-oriented output in 2019 and whatever “Hello Kitty” was supposed to be back to the power chords of her youth.
Linking up with Travis Barker on production, who signed Lavigne to his label late last year and has all but defined a new wave of pop-punk by aligning himself with everyone from legends to teenaged TikTok upstarts, the resulting album can be derivative in certain areas, but ultimately serves to remind listeners why Lavigne once achieved global superstardom. The crashing guitar mixes on this project would threaten to drown out many other artists, but Lavigne’s classic bratty, sarcastic sneer punches through and lands on some infectiously melodic and sugary choruses to balance it all out. The album is bookended by tracks that kick off with Lavigne rhythmically shouting “motherfucker, let’s go.”
As the album’s title would suggest, Love Sux finds Lavigne railing endlessly against a litany of exes – one line accusing billionaire and heir to the Kinder Morgan throne Phillip Sarofim of being “an asshole living in a castle” before threatening to run him over stands out – and guests ranging from modern needle-movers Machine Gun Kelly and Blackbear to Blink-182 frontman Mark Hoppus appear to help her do it. Pop-punk’s triumphant return to the mainstream truly wouldn’t have felt right without Lavigne returning to reclaim her throne.
Best Track: Bois Lie (Ft. Machine Gun Kelly)