Avril Lavigne’s back with her first album in six years, but has Head Above Water got what it takes to push her back to the top of pops hierarchy?
This album release is a poignant one for the Canadian singer-songwriter who fought Lymes disease back in 2014, something she addressed on the triumphant lead single, and the title track, the anticipation is high, especially as Lavigne has said this album is a personal one.
Here’s the thing, it’s not overly personal, it’s kinda of big-pop spectacle personal – so it scratches the surface but doesn’t go any deeper – and the record is a mixed bag of who Lavigne really is and what her record label wants her to be.
The first half of this album holds all the standout tracks of this record, including both singles (“Head Above Water” and “Tell Me It’s Over”) and the brilliantly written “Birdie” and “I Fell In Love With A Devil.” The latter two tracks are just the kind of songs that suit Lavigne, a natural progression from her pop-punk roots into pop-rock ballads – a sound shes played with over previous albums.
“It Was Me” is the older sister of “I’m With You,” from her brilliant debut album, Let’s Go. The similarities are clearly an attempt to bag another hit, but that doesn’t stop the track from being a clear highlight on the album.
Then, there’s the rest of the album…
We reviewed “Dumb Blonde” last week, and we actually like the song, but the punky, bratty and in your face nature of the song sticks out like a sore thumb on the album, surrounded by ballads and mid-tempo bops. The track should’ve been used as a buzz track than actually be included on the record.
Songs like “Souvenir” and “Crush” aren’t necessarily bad songs, but they’re just not Lavigne songs, there is not one ounce of authenticity or feeling behind the tracks – but compared to the next couple, they’re brilliant.
“Goddess” and “Bigger Wow” are two Taylor Swift songs that never were. Lavigne sounds like she’s doing karaoke here, they’re just not her – I really hope this is the record labels doing and not her choice because they are huge misfires!
The final track, “Warrior,” is charming, but with its cliché lyrics, it’s just not enough to save the latter half of the album.
Head Above Water marks a welcome return for the artist, but it won’t be enough to introduce her majorly to a new generation.
Check out the album below and let us know what you think in the comments!