Elektra Records / DTA Records
Release Date: February 25th 2022
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
- Bois Lie (feat. Machine Gun Kelly)
- Bite Me
- Love It When You Hate Me (feat. blackbear)
- Love Sux
- Kiss Me Like The World Was Ending
- Déjà vu
- All I Wanted (feat. Mark Hoppus)
- Dare To Love Me
- Break Of A Heartache
I like that word, “ferocious.” Like I said, I was working with people that just got me and what I wanted to do. We were writing songs and just having so much fun that there was no holding back with the lyrics. I didn’t hold back in being f—king over relationships and guys and how love sucks. Maybe that could have been like a weird thing to be saying at the time, but that’s how I felt, so that set the tone for the album. I wrote that song, brought it in and talked about how I felt. I was like, “I am focusing on myself and I need a break from relationships and I’m just over it.” [laughs] It’s really funny because I was in that place in my life, but it didn’t last very long, and I’m actually in a really good place.
But it was fun to think about the dynamic between two people in a relationship, and the things that are challenges – the stuff that’s fun, what happens when you fall in love, what it’s like when you fall out of love. Even “Love It When You Hate Me” – there’s a bunch of red flags that you see with a person, but there’s mad chemistry, so you decide to dive in anyway and just go for it. [I was writing] a lot of stuff about relationships, my ups and downs. I had a lot of time to reflect, and it’s all very lighthearted and I think kind of funny.
I think especially after my last album being so mellow and dramatic and deep and introspective — you know, it was beautiful, and it was where I was at in my life, and that’s what worked for me at the time. But I was just ready to get back out there, rock the f—k out, and again just thinking about the live shows.
When I first started singing, I was singing in church as a little girl, when I was around five, super young. And then I was singing around town at county fairs and stuff. When I was like 14, those songs didn’t feel cool anymore. And so I stopped, and then I discovered bands, and the stuff that I fell in love with was rock and roll, guitar-driven stuff, like Blink-182, Green Day, Offspring, Goo Goo Dolls, Alanis, Matchbox Twenty. That was the stuff when I was finally old enough to start figuring out who I was, and what I liked just as a person, and then very soon after, musically. That was always what I gravitated towards, what moved me the most.
Throughout my entire life, I’ve always believed that Christian music was ‘good’ and that mainstream music was ‘bad’. That concept and paradigm was drilled into me when I was young (I’m not sure if it was by my parents or by the media); and it was only around about 3 years ago that I branched out and discovered that beauty of other types of music and that God can speak through them too. After all, he spoke through Balaam’s donkey thus He can do anything, right?
My journey of listening to mainstream music started with Rachel Platten (Wildfire and Waves), Cimorelli (Up At Night, Alive and Sad Girls Club) and Carrie Underwood (specifically her 2018 album Cry Pretty). However, the journey of me consciously listening to mainstream music and liking it and being inspired by it was with Avril Lavigne’s 2019 album Head Above Water. To tell you all the truth, I hadn’t actively listened to Avril’s music (apart from singles like “Complicated” and “Keep Holding On”, which both played on Hope 103.2 time and time again!) until Avril dropped the single “Head Above Water” in September 2018. And that was only because the song featured in my Release Radar Spotify playlist- and you can read the review I wrote of that single here! And thus, since that time, I had been eagerly awaiting Avril’s album Head Above Water (and you can read my glowing review of that project here!)- yet the fact remains. Would I have been excited for Avril’s comeback album had she not sung a ‘Christian’/‘worship’ song? If “Head Above Water” was a pop/punk/rock anthem rather than a soft inspirational ballad? Maybe, maybe not. Regardless; over the past 6 years, Avril has had many a hardship. She has toiled, put the hard work and the effort in, written music not for the sake of doing an album, but as a way of healing while she was sick with Lyme Disease; and has come through the tunnel- through the other side of adversity- with much perspective and a different outlook.
Avril Lavigne’s tenacity, grit, and determination to inspire us all in the midst of trials and tribulations is what I admire about her, and it is this resolve shown in all of these 12 songs, that makes Head Above Water stand head and shoulders above quite a lot of albums from 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021- and certainly above any recent pop album that basically sings about sex, drugs, living for yourself and living in the moment. The album remains one of the most played albums in my family throughout the past few years; songs like the title track, “I Fell In Love With The Devil”, “Souvenir”, “Warrior”, “It Was In Me”, “Birdie” and “Tell Me It’s Over” still remain some of my favourite tracks from Avril ever. “Tell Me It’s Over” is a jazz melody where Avril is at breaking point, longing to break up with her abusive lover, wanting him to tell her ‘…if it’s really over, cause it don’t feel like it’s over whenever you’re closing the door…’; while the revealing strings-led Plumb-like track “I Fell In Love With The Devil” dives deep into the intricacies of a toxic relationship, as Avril once again looks to the heavens and pleads ‘…someone send me an angel, to lend me a halo, I fell in love with the Devil, please, save me from this hell…’– probably one of the most musically and lyrically layered songs I’ve heard in a few years! “Souvenir” is an acoustic guitar led pop ballad, exquisitely depicting a young couple in love, but belonging on different parts of the world, as Avril longs to keep the person as a souvenir of that certain chapter of her life; while piano pop ballad “Birdie” crescendos into an all-out semi-gospel/soul melody, that taps into the feeling of being locked in a cage like a bird, always trying to please the next person, while being unhappy yourself- with Avril eventually relaying to us that if we’re stuck in a negative situation, we should in fact fly away like a bird does. Though both “It Was In Me” and “Warrior” are my personal highlights on an already near-flawless album- “It Was In Me” is a heartfelt, personal, honest and emotional rollercoaster of a piano ballad, where Avril relays to us that she no longer has the urge to chase after material possessions, but rather is awakened to the realisation that fulfilment, satisfaction and true happiness comes from within- by relationships with family, friends and with God. “Warrior” similarly is an inspirational melody and one of my favourite songs from Head Above Water. As we hear imagery aplenty; Avril highlights a battle with shields and swords in describing her battle with Lyme Disease, while also providing us with hope that the illness is not the end. Ardently crying out that ‘…I’m a warrior, I fight for my life, like a soldier all through the night, and I won’t give up, I will survive, I’m a warrior, and I’m stronger, that’s why I’m alive, I will conquer, time after time, I’ll never falter, I will survive, I’m a warrior…’. Avril even rerecorded “Warrior” in 2020 to lyrically focus it towards essential workers in light of COVID-19. Jon has blogged about Avril Lavigne in his series about most influential artists of all time; while he also reviewed Avril’s latest re-recorded album Let Go (20th Anniversary Edition). But as we enter 2022, Avril is back with a brand-new album called Love Sux. Avril intends to unveil a deluxe edition of Love Sux in the future; but considering how much Avril has influenced me in my musical preferences; let me first dive deep into the standard edition of Avril’s latest album… and then gloss over the deluxe edition later on. I mean, that might even arrive in 2023- do I even want to wait that long to first point out my thoughts in this new project?
I love how much people still really bring that song up [Sk8er Boi]. I love how warmly everybody still feels toward it. It’s a really special thing, and unique, to have a song that really stands out. I have a lot of big songs, but that one, everyone seems to resonate with. It’s taken on… it’s insane to see a whole new generation discovering music of mine twenty years later. It’s pretty unbelievable. But the song is going to take a new life of its own as I turn it into a film, I’m in the process of doing that now. I have a writer and a director at the moment, and I’m producing it and assembling a team right now.
It feels crazy. 20 years! It does and it doesn’t feel like it… it kinda flew by, right? I’m really excited to be celebrating it this year. I’m getting a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame around the anniversary. I’m planning on doing some fun shows that are just songs from that album. There’s a re-release of the album happening with some demos on it. It’s so crazy that it’s been 20 years.
I’m just really grateful toward my fanbase. They’re just so loving and supportive and passionate, 20 years in. They’re so amazing, so present and there. I feel like owe it all to them, and I’m still here today because of them. I’m really grateful to be here, 20 years later, still making music. I’m really having so much fun. Something I’ve learned about myself is music is very natural for me. I started writing poems when I was little, and songs when I was like 13, 14, and I’ve been onstage since I was 5. And this far into my life, I’m here because I want to be here, and I’m having fun. And it’s nice to be at that point, too. I’m just really thankful and grateful to be here.
Love Sux is a pop/punk album through and through. If Head Above Water was Avril in her most reflective and introspective, this album has Avril being unashamed, unfiltered, loud, real, honest, authentic and at times a bit carefree. It’s the complete antithesis of Avril’s previous album (so much so that 8 of the 12 tracks are labelled as ‘explicit’- but Avril has released a clean version of the album so that’s a good thing for all fans of Avril, don’t you reckon?)- probably more akin to 2007’s The Best Damn Thing; and so I knew what I was actually listening to and ‘getting myself into’ when diving deep into this project. Avril at her most powerful and poignant and impacting and influential is by and large her ‘heavy’ pop/punk material- even though I personally resonated more with Head Above Water than any other album. Overall, I’ve found myself inspired by and impacted by Avril’s music- does this make sense considering I bagged Seventh Day Slumber’s rock album the other day? Well… pop/punk and rock/metal are very different genres. Though each are pretty intense… well, which would you listen to off the bat? Pop/punk you say? Well, there’s your answer, don’t you reckon? Love Sux was an album that I wanted to check out to see if I loved Avril’s much more ‘intense’ side as much as I did her ’inspirational’ and ‘reflective’ side. And so… what is my assessment? Is Love Sux the album of the year?
Opening with “Cannonball”, Avril wastes no time in niceties, and reminds us of her sass, severity, and vigour in her voice. As she through the persona emphatically declares across this rocking 2-minute tune that she wants revenge on her ex and that she’s a ‘…ticking time bomb, I come on strong, I’ll come in hot like a cannonball, like a cannonball, take your best shot, give me all that you’ve got, I’ll come in hot like a cannonball, like a cannonball…’; Avril imparts to us all that sometimes when you’re stuck in a toxic relationship, the best thing to do is to break free and not to continue to play nice with the ex (or the friend if it is a platonic friendship), and instead do a clean break and not speak with them anymore. it’s a dire and a depressing song… but a melody we ought to listen to, and examine our own lives to ensure that our relationships aren’t like when this song describes them to be.
The rest of Love Sux is filled with hurt and angst, but underneath the layers is an album that reminds us that we are all accountable and responsible for ourselves and how we act towards people- and we cannot control how others act towards us, no matter if they make us sad or mad or confused. “Bois Lie”, a mid-tempo pop/rock song with guest vocal Machine Gun Kelly, speaks about the harrowing and stark reality of people lying to each other for whatever reason. With the sad reality highlighted that even people in relationships lie; this song encourages us all to own up to our mistakes and our vices- and once we tell the truth to ourselves, we can finally be honest to each other and move forward in the relationship and the friendship, wherever that may lead. Lead single “Bite Me” is an intense, no-nonsense, and no-holds-barred revenge type song, with the persona relaying to their ex that they ‘…shoulda held on, shoulda treated me right, I gave you one chance, you don’t get it twice, eh-oh, and we’ll be together never, so baby, you can bite me…’. It’s a song that is another warning and a track that has us looking inwards to see if we’re treating the people around us with respect and love and dignity and kindness; while “Love It When You Hate Me” with blackbear exposes the upside-down concept of ‘loving’ the feeling of someone hating you. It’s a song about someone being trapped in an abusive relationship; but the person is still loving the feeling because it’s all they know and it’s comfortable. This melody, though intense and quite ‘out there’, reminds us that relationships like as depicted in the song shouldn’t be championed at all; while the title track is the heartbeat of the album, with Avril listing of the reasons why she believes that falling in love ‘sucks’, and the reasons why she feels like she’s given up on love. this song was one of the first ones written for the album, and it was before Avril met her current boyfriend Mod Sun; however, the pain and angst in this song reminds us of someone who has been hurt beyond imagination, and someone who wants to reconcile what they want (a shot at love) with what they’ve experienced (breakup after breakup after breakup).
“Kiss Me Like The World Is Ending”, thematically and lyrically quite different to the rest of the album, is a romantic love song detailing Avril’s emotions and feelings toward her current boyfriend (and is a sweet melody describing the early butterflies of happiness and infatuation in the beginning stages of a relationship); while “Avalanche” is probably the most impacting and powerful melody on the album. Lyrically and thematically, Avril speaks about mental health and feeling down and feeling overwhelmed and like the world is suffocating you, as she fervently and compellingly declares ‘…I say that I’m just fine, but I don’t feel alright on the inside, I say that I’m okay, but I don’t feel okay right now, no, I’ve been slippin’ and slidin’, my world’s getting colder, I’m tired of lookin’ over my shoulder, tonight, I don’t feel alright on the inside, it’s like I’m runnin’ from an avalanche…’. It’s a song that is relevant today as it is yesterday and as it is tomorrow. Mental health and our own emotional well-being is paramount and necessary for us all to fully grasp and fully understand, and this song is a stepping stone in decreasing the taboo and stigma around such a prevalent and rising topic right now.
“Déjà Vu”, a hard-hitting, explosive guitar led radio friendly ballad, speaks about Avril’s previous relationship with Philip Sarofim and how the relationship fizzled because of Philip not acting his age and showering her with expensive gifts that she did not want nor did Avril appreciate, while the track “F.U.” is… pretty self-explanatory- it’s a dig at probably all of Avril’s past exes, relaying to them that she’s so over them that it’s not funny. “All I Wanted”, with Blink-182 frontman Mark Hoppus, is a fiery, passionate, enthusiastic, and explosive track about young love, similar in style and theme to “Kiss Me Like The World Is Ending”; while “Dare To Love Me”, one of the few ballads, has Avril lamenting about her lack of love life. It’s a song that seems hopeless, with Avril commenting about the fact that she has been unlucky in love so many times. However, the song is subtly hopeful as well; as we are encouraged to give love a go and to live life to the fullest, even if relationships turn our pear-shaped. With Avril declaring that the person should only announce their love for her if they really mean it; we are inspired as well to truly cherish our relationships, and to declare our love for someone if we mean it too. Love Sux then ends with anthemic, powerful and compelling 2 minute party song “Break Of A Heartache”, where Avril once again bids goodbye and adieu to her ex, reminding him that she doesn’t feel anything for him anymore.
This is such a special and unique situation. The fan base is just so passionate and they’ve been so supportive. They’re the reason why I’m still here 20 years later, and why everything took off on the first album.
I never would have seen any of this coming. I truly just loved music and writing. I didn’t even know what Hollywood was — I just knew I wanted to sing, and I loved to write, and I loved to play guitar. And then all this happened!
Avril Lavigne as an artist will always be sentimental to me. I definitely have Avril to thank for me essentially liking mainstream music more and more. She has shown me that any type of music can have a message- and that God speaks through the unexpected. Love Sux, even though it is an album full of break-up songs and only a handful of inspiring ballads, is another winner for Avril and a timely reminder of her relevance in this industry. Love Sux, despite the expletives (which should really be expected at this point!), is on the whole lyrically and thematically quite confronting- and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I will check out Avril’s discography from here on out. So, thanks Avril for providing us with a stirring album in Head Above Water that has made me a fan; and a more-than worthy follow-up and return to pop/punk in Love Sux! Kudos to everyone involved- Love Sux, though short at 33 minutes, is a masterpiece from start to finish- it’s pop/punk at its finest and most raw. And with plenty of lyrical content that we all need to dwell upon and ponder… well I can’t wait to see and hear what is next in the future! Well done Avril! Maybe a Christmas album?
I am ready to be super-focused and on the road. We were in the studio working on, I might say, the deluxe for this one? But this year’s touring, next year’s touring, and like, I’d like to keep going, because I’m doing so much work, so much writing. I wrote probably 30 songs [for this album], and I just feel like I’ll keep going. The next project I feel like, right now, would be an extension of this. This feels so good, and I have so much material, that I would want to continue.
3 songs to listen to: Bois Lie, Avalanche, Dare To Love Me
RIYL: Taylor Swift, Skillet, Nickelback, Alanis Morissette, Olivia Rodrigo, Evanescence, Demi Lovato, Kelly Clarkson