Ram Jams: Avril Lavigne’s ‘Love Sux’

The ‘princess of pop punk’ returns with her first studio album in three years




Genre: Alternative

On a Playlist With: KennyHoopla, Paramore, blink-182

Avril Lavigne reclaims her title as the princess of pop-punk with her newest album “Love Sux” (2022). 

In a recent interview with MTV, Lavigne expressed how she had the most fun recording this album compared to her others because there was no commitment to a record label or management. She was simply making music with her friends. The entire tracklist is very indicative of this newfound freedom, and as I am a long-time “Little Black Star,” (a fandom name coined by Lavigne in 2011) I was so happy to hear her genuinely enjoying herself in each song. 

Her past two albums — “Head Above Water” (2019) and “Avril Lavigne” (2013) — each strayed from her original rocker persona with explorations of sound that varied from pop to jazz. She explained in a recent interview with radio host Kevan Kenney how past labels pushed her to stay away from rock since that was no longer popular. 

My jaw dropped when I heard the drums and electric guitars, and I kept repeating “She’s back! She’s back!”

Travis Barker, who previously worked with Lavigne on her album “The Best Damn Thing” (2007), helped with the reemergence of punk rock the past year through recent collaborations with numerous artists. Lavigne has taken influence from Barker’s drumming while also bringing in a more mature sound from her more recent albums. 

The album takes off with the explosive song “Cannonball.” My jaw dropped when I heard the drums and electric guitars, and I kept repeating “She’s back! She’s back!” like Cornelius Fudge reacting to Voldemort’s return in “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” It felt like the perfect song to begin the album.

Lavigne shared with Kenney that she began writing this album after many failed relationships and having lost hope with love. I’ve always admired her ability to express her emotions through her voice, and she sounds fed up. The sassy delivery of her lyrics and fast electric guitar reminded me of the songs “Everything Back But You” and “I Can Do Better” from her earlier album, “The Best Damn Thing.”

As soon as “Avalanche” queued up the night of the album’s release, I knew it was going to be my favorite song on the album. This may be based on my bias toward “Goodbye Lullaby” (2011), my favorite Lavigne album. The acoustic intro is reminiscent of “Not Enough,” but instead of focusing on the themes of a love struggle, she focuses on her internal battle. The song begins with gentle acoustics as if the listener is pushing her to express her pent-up feelings. The second verse shifts to a more up-tempo sound, as if the confession is now pouring out of her. The bridge of the song was intense but welcomed. 

Lavigne shares that she feels that she is “suffocating” as she attempts to stay afloat. Barker’s drum breakdown and return to the original tempo as she sings is a musical representation of her losing control and regaining her balance as she confesses her vulnerable, fragile state. The song finishes off as an anthem with a combination of Lavigne’s iconic belts, strings and heavy drums. 

I knew that no other song would top “Avalanche” for me as I continued to listen to the rest of the album. However, the lyrics of “Déjà vu” immediately reminded me of “I Fell in Love with the Devil” from “Head Above Water” (2019), a song in which she describes how an ex-lover’s gifts do not make up for his abuse. The growl in her voice as she sings the bridge took me back to the way her voice sounded 20 years ago in her debut album “Let Go” (2002).

My favorite of the collaboration songs on “Love Sux” is “Bois Lie” with Machine Gun Kelly.

My favorite song in the remainder of the album is “F.U.” I described it to a friend as the Avril Lavigne version of One Direction’s “Tell Me a Lie.” I also noticed that the guitar riffs were similar to Paramore’s “Misery Business.” Lavigne finishes the album by literally saying “goodbye” to the listener in “Break Of A Heartache.” It’s a very fun song lyrically as she says she wants no more of a toxic relationship. 

Lavigne’s collaboration with Barker shines throughout the entire album. I was concerned about the other artists featured on the album prior to its release. While “Bois Lie”, “Love It When You Hate Me” and “All I Wanted” still remain fun songs, I feel that Lavigne’s voice does not blend well with the other artists, Machine Gun Kelly, blackbear and Mark Hoppus. My favorite of the collaboration songs on “Love Sux” is “Bois Lie” with Machine Gun Kelly.

Another concern I had was that the songs would all sound too similar when Lavigne teased that the album is her rocking out through and through during her appearance at Travis Barker’s House of Horrors. Contrary to what I thought, the songs are all individually entertaining and I can picture myself dancing around and singing along to each one of them. I also have a lot of appreciation for Lavigne allowing for the matured sound she found in her last couple of albums to influence “Love Sux.” 

Lavigne has proven that she is deserving of her title as the princess of pop-punk after two decades of being in the business. Her extensive personal experiences and business ventures over the past twenty years have all been incorporated into her current sound. “Love Sux” is perfectly described by Lavigne herself as a “love letter to women and the pop punk music she grew up on” and the album she has always wanted to make.

The Bottom Line: “Love Sux” contains relatable songs with matured lyrics that are bound to become classics.

Roses: “Cannonball,” “Bite Me,” “Avalanche,” “F.U.”

Thorns: “Kiss Me Like The World Is Ending” and “Dare to Love Me”

Verdict: 8/10