You have to feel sorry for Avril Lavigne. No, not because she has generally floundered in her quest to be taken seriously by anyone over the age of fifteen, or even because of her contrived and consequently rather silly 'punk chick' fashion statement. No, you have to feel sorry for her because last year, she married a man with the second silliest name in music (after Idlewild's Roddy Woomble, that is) - Deryck Whibley, of fellow Canadian punk-poppers Sum 41. Mrs. Whibley's third album has been pegged as a 'less mellow, more upbeat' junket by some - but the paradoxically-titled 'The Best Damn Thing' sounds eerily familiar to the 22-year old Lavigne's previous output. While 2002's 'Let Go' was a semi-likeable slice of fresh, energetic teen-pop that spawned some genuinely good pop singles, Under My Skin took Lavigne to a moodier, tougher place, with tracks that exhibited her songwriting potential, if not musical innovation. The Best Damn Thing, however, is a rehash of albums one and two with an added injection of ragged punk - presumably thanks to Whibley, who also has a hand in production here. Lead single Girlfriend is a frighteningly irritating exercise in playground rhymes, several tracks (The Best Damn Thing, Contagious) could literally be cheerleading chants, while the brace of big ballads (When You're Gone, Innocence) are hollow and lack the universal appeal that previous singles like 'I'm With You' had. There are even a couple of tracks that could, in all seriousness, be Sum 41 cast-offs - all frenetic, tight riffs that bounce like a teen mosher at a Green Day gig. It's not all doom and gloom though - Runaway is a smart, easygoing uptempo power-pop song and Hot is a similarly well-produced, radio friendly tune that chugs perkily along without being irritating. They're not enough to rescue this album from utter mediocrity, though - as she says herself on surefire future soundtrack to another pointless MTV reality TV show, "I Can Do Better". You sure can, Avril, but not even an 'E' for effort this time 'round.
Review by Lauren Murphy | 09:00 | Monday 30th April 2007 | Album Review
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