Avril Lavigne’s feisty new single, “What the Hell,” suggested her new album would have the same pop-punk spunk as her last. But “Goodbye Lullaby” will leave listeners wondering “What the Hell” happened?
The 26-year-old singer has grown up since she released “The Best Damn Thing” in 2007. In 2009, she and Deryck Whibley of punk band Sum 41 ended their three-year marriage. Interestingly, Whibley produced Lavigne’s new album and inspired a couple of breakup ballads.
Though heartfelt, Lavigne’s attempts at slow numbers are boring. Tracks such as “I Love You,” “Everybody Hurts” and “4 Real” have lyrics and melodies that are just as simplistic as their titles. Unfortunately, these seemingly interchangeable ballads make up most of the album.
Where Lavigne succeeds is in the up-tempo tracks where she asserts her independence. Much like her 2007 hit “Girlfriend,” “What the Hell” is the best song on the album, and it’s no wonder it became her first single. But any song where Lavigne relies on swear words seems to do the trick. “Smile,” another danceable track, opens with the line, “You know that I’m a crazy b—-/ I do what I want when I feel like it.” That attitude is more suited to the pink-streaked haired Canadian than her more subdued tracks, at least until she steps up her song-writing.
“Stop Standing There” is also a high point on the album. Claps and snaps add some body and playfulness to the song, elements that are lacking in tracks such as “I Love You,” which has a thin melody and uninspired lyrics.
Lavigne has a handful of songs on the album with enough pep to make it big on the radio, but the majority of tracks on “Goodbye Lullaby” will put listeners to sleep.