Avril Lavigne - The Best Damn Thing

Bruce Turnbull 10/05/2007

Rating: 3/5

It seems to have taken Canadian punk-pop songstress Avril Lavigne three years to 'find herself,' and as it turns out, she had more fun in her heady teenage years so she has decided to return to them momentarily. Let's just hope she doesn't go through puberty again.

Now onto her third album, the ostentatiously named “The Best Damn Thing”, Lavigne moves on from her darker, spiritual chick-rock approach found on 2004's “Under My Skin”, to the warmer, sunnier climes of so-cal pop-punk for her latest effort. No doubt you'll have heard the chart-topping lead single “Girlfriend” and its pervasively annoying hook line, so you ought to be schooled in the type of thing to be expected of the full length. Truth be told, most of the tracks follow the same formula, which is a drastic change for the young Miss Lavigne in itself, as she always seemed to create vastly diverse expansions on the genre. This is a stripped down, back to the roots release that sees Lavigne having fun, and taking the concept of humour too seriously. The songs sound comical in the first place; there hardly seems reason to stick forced laughter on every intro…However, the charm and felicity of her previous efforts is still apparent, especially with the emotionally charged “Innocence” and the most mature track on the album, “Runaway”.

The guitars are cranked up, the bitchy brat attitude is back, and the huge cheerleader-style choruses are in. And it all makes for a very enjoyable record, despite the radical change in direction. For starters the songs are actually fast, particularly the ferocious “I Don't Have to try” and the venomous “Everything Back But You”. A plethora of guests have been drafted up, including husband and Sum 41 guitarist Deryck Whibley and ex-Blink 182 stickman Travis Barker, which certainly adds an authenticity to the direction the album wants to go in.

Broken up by ballads and blasé fillers such as “Hot” and “When You're Gone”, “The Best Damn Thing” fails to deliver what its title insinuates, being a rather disjointed affair that could have done with a couple of truly killer songs we all know she's capable of creating. Maybe Avril could it explain it herself? After all the chorus of “I Can Do Better” is self explanatory…