By: Grace Koennecke, Columns Editor
DTA Records; 2022
Key tracks: “Cannonball,” “Bois Lie ft. Machine Gun Kelly,” “Bite Me,” “Kiss Me Like The World Is Ending,” “Deja vu,”
Avril Lavigne has always been known as the pop-punk princess that dominated the early 2000s with hits like “Complicated,” “Girlfriend” and “What the Hell,” which all helped solidify her tough as-nails persona in a male-dominated music industry. After the vulnerable 2019 release of Head Above Water, Lavigne was determined to create a new album that paid homage to her long and worthwhile career, reintroducing heavy guitars and drums reminiscent of her early days as a singer. Love Sux is the singer at her best, not afraid to call out those who have treated her poorly in the past.
The opening of the album is where listeners are introduced to a short and sweet intro called “Cannonball.” Lavigne’s fiery vocals and fast instrumental pace make the track sound like you’ve been transported back to the beginning of the 2000s, topping it off with the same vengeful tone that the singer has never let go of. This track is Lavigne’s redemption from all the people who have hurt her, comparing herself to a “ticking time bomb.” Obviously, her emotions get the best of her and she can explode when the feelings of anger and frustration are bottled up for too long, explaining the “Cannonball” title.
Shortly after, “Bois Lie ft. Machine Gun Kelly” is a sucker punch to all the lovers who have lied to Lavigne in the past, creating the perfect comeback track. It’s a track full of questions and the singer losing her patience, which is evident through the constant wailing and shouting. MGK and Lavigne’s voices mix well together, making this a strong duet. This song is one that you could bang your head along to.
“Bite Me” is the feminist anthem that fans have being yearning for for years from Lavigne. The vocals are stunning and pierce right through the heart of whoever backstabbed her to make the song possible. She warns this person not to mess with her and calls them out for their actions. Interestingly, Lavigne is facing the reality of what this relationship really was by providing listeners with an honest and raw take on what being disloyal entails.
The next few tracks blur into the background as they all use pretty same-y instrumentals and lyrical themes of betrayal and heartbreak, which fail to showcase Lavigne’s amazing range and poetic nature usually within her songs. Luckily, the second half of the album saves the singer from totally losing the magic within her music.
“Kiss Me Like The World Is Ending” is once again a quick song, but the lyrics really do make it seem like the world is ending and that the one you love is there to comfort you through it. Lavigne wants to be with the person she loves, no matter what life throws at her. The song’s lyrics like “I don’t want to say goodbye / Let’s meet up after we die” make it feel existential in tone, but it’s easily still one that you can get up and dance to. Once again, the singer’s vocals are polished, proving that Lavigne is still just as good as she was at age 17.
While it sounds a lot like many of the previous tracks on Love Sux, “Deja vu” uses blatant and straight-forward lyrics to emphasize the point that Lavigne will not let anyone use her. “Just admit it you’re an asshole / Living in a castle” is a line you won’t forget as she sings of expecting the person she once loved to change, but realizing later on they never will. Whoever the song is targeted at clearly was deeply flawed, relying on drugs and alcohol to make excuses for treating her as an object. Lavigne experiments with her range on this song, switching from her high soprano to a gravely, sneering dialect.
The rest of the album doesn’t have many standouts, causing many songs to become skips that could have easily been cut from the tracklist. It’s almost as if Lavigne is trying too hard to replicate her past music as the end grows closer, using similar guitars, drum tempos and layered screaming that not even Lavigne fans miss much anymore.
Strong and vibrant at the beginning and repetitive and boring towards the end, Love Sux is by no means a flawless album, but it is a somewhat well-thought out replica of the early 2000s pop-punk that we all miss. Lavigne still hasn’t lost the fire and rage within her voice, nor her writing abilities, but it might be time for her to change direction in the near future.