It speaks volumes that a 37-year-old still produces better pop-rock bangers than the punk artists of today.
Avril Lavigne, widely regarded as the “Princess of Pop Punk,” returned to mainstream music with her seventh LP “Love Sux,” released Feb. 25. With features from Machine Gun Kelly, Blackbear and Mark Hoppus of Blink-182, the Travis Barker-produced project rectifies Lavigne’s title as a reigning pop punk icon.
Known for her Billboard hits such as “Girlfriend,” “Sk8ter Boi” and “Complicated,” Lavigne paved the road for female-dominant mainstream rock. One of the highest-selling female artists of the 2000s, her impact is massive.
It’s a fact that pop punk is making a comeback. Olivia Rodrigo, WILLOW, Machine Gun Kelly, Ashnikko and Bella Poarch’s discographies speak to this. Another fact is that most of these artists have credited Lavigne as an influence for their style.
One of the few punk artists from the early-2000s still producing quality music, Lavigne returns to her roots with “Love Sux,” partly in thanks to Barker’s production. A compilation of high energy breakup and heartache anthems, the album feels like a wave of nostalgia for 90s babies, so put on your black eyeliner and boots to feel like it’s 2002.
The opening track “Cannonball” is an example of this. With a dramatic drum-line and punchline lyricism, the opener sets the tone for the rest of the project, a high intensity that barely lets down throughout the entire 33 minutes.
It would be a missed opportunity for Lavigne to neglect “Bois Lie” as the album’s next single. Long gone is the romance with her skater boy; she’s calling him out. A duet with Kelly, “Bois Lie” is a radio-ready, summer breakup bop. Few artists with decades-long careers can blend as seamlessly alongside emerging singers with the chemistry that these two have.
Tracks such as “Bite Me” and “Love It When You Hate Me” remind us that her vocal prowess is the main reason why Lavigne remains a massive artist. The two lead singles from “Love Sux,” each serves its purpose flawlessly. Powerful, demanding and proud, this is the most “Avril” she’s sounded since 2011’s “What the Hell.”
Title track “Love Sux” is yet another commanding performance by Lavigne, a timeless sounding track that would transition perfectly whether it was released in 2002 or 2022. It’s so vengeful and new, one would never guess that this is an artist who spent most of the 2010s on hiatus due to Lyme’s disease.
Barker’s production reaches a high point on later album tracks such as “F.U.” and “Deja vu.” Anyone looking to produce a pop punk project should look to these moments as a blueprint. The wailing “I’m over you” refrain of “F.U.” is genius and Lavigne’s wailing vocals raise the bar high. Relatable lyricism easily camouflages the fact that she’s still writing breakup songs twenty years later.
One of the few moments where the blaring drums and electric guitars slow is for “Dare to Love Me.” Perhaps the only track that pulls influence from 2019’s “Head Over Water,” it’s raw and personal. Ballads like this suit her well, and this is the perfect spot on the project to showcase versatility.
Whether “Love Sux” will bring Lavigne back to the mainstream success she received in the 2000s is yet to be seen, but it shouldn’t be required. She’s already proved her impact as an icon. Lavigne exists in a perfect spot where loyal fans will continue to hype her up, and her music will always strike a nostalgic chord.
Don’t just take our word for it, check out Lavigne’s “Love Sux” here.