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Full Throttle, Attitude-Driven and Feisty
Three years after her last record 2019’s Head Above Water, Canadian pop-rock star Avril Lavigne releases her seventh studio album, Love Sux.
The project features guest appearances from Blackbear, Machine Gun Kelly, and Blink 182’s, Mark Hoppus. Love Sux is a full-throttle, attitude-driven, and feisty album — it’s a lot of genuine fun.
About the Album
Love Sux is essentially a tracklist of structurally straightforward pop songs that have been injected with a heavy dose of guitar raucousness. As demonstrated on album opener "Cannonball," the record wastes no time getting into gear.
Love Sux is a rollercoaster ride, and its meaty pop-punk production is the most notable thing about it. It’s rarely boring and habitually switches things up to keep listeners guessing. The album’s rousing instrumentals all make their mark, and they dedicatedly back up Lavigne’s unabashed performances.
Right across Love Sux, 37-year-old Avril Lavigne is a sparky and upfront presence. She’s a powerhouse. More crucially, Lavigne is also consistent vocally. The Canadian belts out the album’s sometimes irritated, sometimes disillusioned melodies without breaking a sweat.
Admittedly, the LP’s winning instrumentation can be stifled by the limitations of mainstream pop music. From time to time, the LP’s eager rock is too glossy and mechanical sounding. This only stands out further when a purposely raw, low-budget, garage band vibration is built around Lavigne.
Still, even at its lowest points, the album’s preppy punk instantaneously introduces a burst of adrenaline — every time. Amid all this activity, Lavigne rises to match and meet the project’s blistering output comfortably.
Overall, Love Sux feels gelled together and solid — there are few loose ends. Energetically speaking, the LP’s entire tracklist flows in one direction, and its songs all seem to be on the same page. However, the downside of that positive is that Love Sux steadily settles into a musical formula, which it rarely strays away from.
Midway through Love Sux, the songs sound as if they’re doing the same things, and unfurling in the same ol’ ways. As a result, Love Sux becomes unchallenging and kind of predictable. A few more artistic detours would’ve improved things.
Several tunes on Love Sux sound like revised versions of the lead single "Bite Me." While it’s made obvious that Lavigne has undergone a series of intense personal changes and challenges since her last project, the lyrics of ‘Love Sux’ don’t always reflect that. The release’s wordplay is usually relatable, but it can be disappointingly elementary at times.
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Also, the album’s preoccupation with outmoded relationships wears a little thin after a while. Especially as the topic is visited again and again via the LP’s steadfast glitter punk blueprint.
Even appearances from American guest artists, singer/songwriter producer Blackbear, and rapper/musician actor Machine Gun Kelly fail to usurp the LP’s overriding agenda in any meaningful way. Admittedly though, "Bois Lie" with Machine Gun Kelly and "Love It When You Hate Me" featuring Blackbear arguably contain the album’s most interesting and complex pop lyrics.
Rising To The Occasion
The LP’s title track Love Sux is crammed with fiery playground immediacy. Lavigne’s jaded, cutesy lyrics soar over its driving and explosive instrumental. The tune plays around with a range of entertaining refrains and catchy ideas — it’s hard to resist them all!
Rising to the occasion, "Kiss Me Like The World Is Ending" sounds more ambitious than the majority of Love Sux. On top of that, the buoyant outlook of "Kiss Me Like The World Is Ending" stands out amongst the album’s romantic dissatisfaction. The track’s driving production boldly backs up Lavigne’s starry-eyed and romantic wordplay. Lavigne also performs a range of full-bodied vocals on the tune.
Pop-rock ballad "Avalanche" can feel a little expected. The track does nothing that isn’t done better elsewhere on Love Sux. On the other hand, the tune boasts a momentous mid-section that upgrades the entire song and helps shake it out of complete mediocrity.
"Déjà Vu" is a catchy highlight and is worthy of a few replays. The track’s hook stays on the brain and its growling rock instrumental is fulfilling. Its guitars, bass-lines, and kick sound all impact contagiously. It’s easy to envision "Déjà Vu" being blared out mercilessly in a packed stadium somewhere.
A Swift Pop Punch
Fitting in neatly with the album’s overall theme, Lavigne attempts to distance herself from a failing, toxic relationship scenario on "FU." The star can be heard singing, “You used to drive me crazy. But I don’t feel nothing lately, and I think we’re done here.” Factoring in the rest of Lavigne’s back catalog, "FU" covers no new ground. Yet the track’s production packs a swift pop punch.
"All I Wanted" features a guest appearance from American musician, Blink 182 vocalist and bassist Mark Hoppus. It’s a lowkey highlight. Lavigne and Hoppus sound well-suited alongside each other.
"All I Wanted" functions as a two-and-a-half minute love story, and for the most part it works. Its singalong, tuneful melodies are open and appealing. The song’s brisk rock production pairs nicely with its contrastingly sentimental lyrics.
Pop-rock number "Dare To Love Me" is gradual in terms of its appeal. The track kicks off unremarkably within a quiet storm, and can feel a little throwaway at first. However, it soon gains traction and grows into something more memorable. Moreover, its sweeping emotional arcs climax in a gripping way.
Lavigne cheerleads herself out of an undesirable relationship on the touch-and-go, call-to-arms pop-punk number "Break Of A Heartache." The song just about manages to contain Lavigne’s raging post-relationship frustration.
The songstress is heard chanting, “I don’t wanna take another rip, ‘nother strain, ‘nother bruise, ‘nother break of a heartache!” "Break Of A Heartache" charges its way forward from the second it starts. The aim of the whirlwind song is to whip listeners up into a feisty frenzy, and it does just that.