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Avril Lavigne | Head Above Water | Album Review

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Avril Lavigne’s first record release since 2013 made its debut on Feb. 15 of this year. Laden with pop ballads, Head Above Water catches listeners off guard with the abrupt change in Lavigne’s usual angst.

The lead single off Lavigne’s evolved sound takes listeners by surprise at first listen with shocking instrumentation of orchestral instruments combined with heavier percussive sounds. Predictably, Lavigne’s recent struggles in past years are festering in the form of prayers-turned-songs. Lyrics like, “God, keep my head above water / Don’t let me drown, it gets harder / I’ll meet you there at the altar,” are a far cry from Lavigne’s typical malaise sound. 

Despite the unexpectedly refreshing sound that Lavigne starts the record out with, the monotony of pop ballads present in Head Above Water is where the record loses its distinction as listeners make their way down the track list. Outside of three more upbeat songs, Head Above Water—that only features 12 tracks total—is riddled with piano-led pop ballads like “It Was in Me,” unexpected slow-blues tracks like “Tell Me it’s Over,” and string-heavy serenades like “I Fell in Love with the Devil.” 

Listening to the first few tracks, the pop ballad theme is invigorating to hear from the classically pop punk singer; however, as the album progresses and each track sounds as dismal and akin to the last, listeners start to lose attention quickly. A better mix between pop ballad tracks and up-tempo and livelier tracks would’ve made for a more intriguing and attentive record from Lavigne. Tracks like “Dumb Blonde (feat. Nicki Minaj),” “Souvenir,” and “Bigger Wow” act as bizarre mood swings throughout the record due to the sparsity of upbeat tracks.

Lavigne’s Head Above Water begins as a refreshing new sound but quickly grows boring as each song begins to sound like a carbon copy of the previous. The record itself comes off as mundane and tiresome the further it progresses.

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