Avril Lavigne: Love Sux album review: at 37 she’s showing the kids how it’s done


t’s hard to think of Avril Lavigne as an elder stateswoman of pop-punk when she looks almost exactly the same on the cover of her seventh album, at 37, as she did on her 20 year-old debut album, Let Go. This time, she sounds the same too. Aside from the lone ballad, Dare to Love Me, she’s ditched the serious tone that characterised her tedious previous offering, Head Above Water. On Love Sux it’s 2002 all over again, right down to the textspeak spelling of the title and Bois Lie. The guitars are raw and racing, the choruses packed with shoutalong catchiness, and the whole thing hurtles past in barely more than half an hour.

It’s a smart move. Back then, alongside her fellow skinny tie wearers, Busted, she was derided as the unnecessary training wheels on “real” rock’s bicycle. Why listen to this cynically marketed baby food when there was Green Day and Blink-182, who had built fanbases more slowly and credibly before finally attaining platinum sales figures a few years earlier? The divide between pop and rock was more pronounced two decades ago, and though Pink managed it around the same time, trying to straddle both worlds could be uncomfortable. Charlie Simpson of Busted could barely conceal his disgust at his own music.

Today, thanks in large part to the influence of Blink-182’s drummer Travis Barker and his record label, DTA, the sound is having another moment. Artists from other genres are running into its arms, including Disney Channel actress Olivia Rodrigo, whose spiky rocker Good 4 U (more unnecessary textspeak in the time of character-limitless Whatsapp) was a worldwide number one, plus Willow and this album’s special guest Machine Gun Kelly, who abandoned their earlier sounds to score their biggest sales figures with pop-punk albums.

Avril Lavigne and Travis Barker

/ Ryan McFadden/handout

With plenty of grown-ups now willing to admit to Lavigne’s influence on the forming of their music taste, why shouldn’t she show the upstarts how to do it? She may be urging a feckless lover to “act your age” on Déjà Vu, but she delights in doing nothing of the sort on a rowdy song that threatens to “buy a Range Rover just to run you over” and rhymes “castle” with “asshole”. Fast riffing, simplistic songs such as F.U. and Bite Me also keep the maturity levels enjoyably low. There’s no substance, and she very much isn’t doing anything new, but like the straight hair and that tie, it still suits her.


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