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Avril Lavigne - Goodbye Lullaby

Liz Mak discusses tracks from Avril Lavigne's latest album.

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Two-and-a-half years in the making, Avril Lavigne's Goodbye Lullaby was posited as a departure from the artist's more familiar pop-punk sound, aiming for an emotional, pared-down album about - you guessed it - life. But while Lavigne's music has delved into the deeply personal, it lacks the personality or insight to keep it afloat. Goodbye Lullaby operates under a faulty hypothesis that deviating from tried-and-true material translates into perceived maturity. It's really in tracks that channel Lavigne's original skate-punk sound that the album provides a welcome relief from the otherwise uninspired material.

Without the lively energy marking Lavigne's debut, Goodbye Lullaby waxes dull. Fluffy harmonies lace forgettable melodies and catchiness replaces originality, producing a '90s sound positioned more for nostalgic-appeal than attuned critical listening. Promoting itself as antithetical to Lavigne's previous material doesn't seem to work for the album, either: It lacks the in-your-face attitude of old (save for punctuating epithets scattered throughout). With the exception of a few tracks - namely, "What the Hell" and "Push" - we get a taste of what grown-up Avril sounds like: boring.

Goodbye Lullaby proves the perfect soundtrack fodder of romantic comedies, in which the titular character is defined by emotional one-dimensionality: She feels sad, she feels lonely, she feels independent (she likes to hook up). Just as the album can only harness one idea at a time - a compartmentalized catharsis - it's the anthem for a lovelorn heroine whose perceptions are diluted down to easy-to-swallow, bite-size bits. It's not a gesture towards a simplistic audience, but merely a concession to Lavigne's inability to subtly channel anything more than what she feels.

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