Avril Lavigne Mellows Out, Gets Serious
Due Out November
After making a career out of writing hypercatchy pop-punk tunes, Avril Lavigne is taking it down a notch. “My last record was about loud guitars and energy, but this time I wanted to really feel my music,” explains Lavigne, 24, lounging around a Los Angeles studio with her husband, Sum 41 frontman Deryck Whibley. To meet that goal, Lavigne has created a stripped-down rock record that’s driven by acoustic guitars, emo-style lyrics and powerful vocal performances on new tunes like ‘Everybody Hurts’ and ‘Darlin’.’ “Avril’s voice was sometimes lost and buried in overproduction,” says Whibley, who oversaw the majority of the album (Butch Walker also worked on the set).
Lavigne claims that the new record won’t feature much in the way of pop-punk anthems like ‘Girlfriend’ – which helped push her last album, 2007’s The Best Damn Thing, to multi-platinum status. Still, the big-lunged chorus of ‘Darlin’’ (“There’s nothing I could do but love you the best I can”) is as catchy as anything she’s ever written.
According to Lavigne, ‘Darlin’’ is a “new” old song – the second one she ever wrote, in fact, back when she was an unknown 15-year-old living in Napanee, Ontario. “I can see the family room in my parents’ house when I hear it,” she says. Written quickly between tour stops in a Malaysian hotel room, ‘Black Star’ started as theme music for a TV spot for Avril-branded perfume. Soon, however, it became one of Lavigne’s most ambitious songs, an ethereal lullaby that turns epic with tinkling Coldplay-like pianos and soaring strings.
Lavigne and Whibley recorded most of the set at their LA home “in our sweats.” And while Lavigne hasn’t entirely given up her bratty ways – “When I’m having a bad-hair day, would you tell me you like it that way?” she sings on another new track, ‘Fine’ – there’s a maturity to the set that surprised even her. “Life, that’s what this record is about,” she says. “It’s so easy for me to do a boy-bashing pop song, but to sit down and write honestly about something that’s really close to me, something I’ve been through, it’s a totally different thing.”