Self-effacing fourth album from the Canadian star, but lacking authenticity.
Al Fox 2011-02-25
From tomboy to rebel to self-proclaimed motherf***ing princess, it’s perhaps unsurprising that album number four from Canada’s kid sister Avril Lavigne sees her endeavour for maturity. In Goodbye Lullaby, however, she’s overshot the runway just a tad.
Where third album The Best Damn Thing was a retrograde, even contradictory move – albeit with victorious results – the candyfloss-rock lead single What the Hell would suggest Goodbye Lullaby directly snatches the baton. Not so.
Aside from perhaps the spiky, unstable Smile, which shoehorns in more needless swear words than a week’s worth of late-night Hollyoaks, the rest of Goodbye Lullaby takes a more self-effacing, earnest approach. It’s all break-up lyrics and acoustic guitars and mid-tempo musings, whilst occasionally playing up to the lullaby aspect of the title, sprinkling the whole affair with ethereal twinkles and cutesy similes.
Her well-documented divorce from Sum 41’s Deryck Whibley (incidentally, a key collaborator here) may play some part in such a development; or perhaps the sizeable dose of maturity is merely a bounce-back from the infantile inclinations of The Best Damn Thing. Either way, the theme, although well-defined, is executed with a disquieting flimsiness.
For such a laid-bare, personal album, very little of Goodbye Lullaby feels particularly authentic – plainly, there’s zero grit. Considering the natural, gut-wrenching candour conveyed by Lavigne in I’m With You (at the age of 17, no less), it’s disappointing stuff.
There are a few examples where Lavigne actually manages to communicate some real sentiment: Wish You Were Here is an unassuming strum-along, while the weighty licks and honest simplicity of Not Enough paints a picture of both its narrative and the capabilities of Lavigne as an artist.
But for the most part, the generic gushings about having you standing by my side or just wanting you to know or hearing you say goodbye could be lifted from a hundred thousand love songs by a hundred thousand singers. Whether Goodbye Lullaby was all a tad over thought, or whether she’s just holding back, the finished product falls significantly short of Avril Lavigne’s own capabilities.