The New Classic
Teen queen Avril Lavigne may now be 29, married and planning her first child, but if this unashamedly youthful new album is anything to go by, it would appear that the responsibilities of adulthood are still a long way off.
2011's Goodbye Lullaby gave growing up its best shot with a dose of mellowed acoustic earnestness, but this self-penned record has gone quite the other way, in the best possible way. Taking five steps forward and ten steps backwards, it's buoyant, spiky and marked by a strong sense of self-empowerment; a resurrection of that pop-punk princess we met all those years ago.
Opening with the shout-a-long statement-of-intent that is Rock 'n' Roll, Lavigne boasts about swearing as she digs her Barry M glitter-adorned nails into the entrails of youth. Lead single Here's To Never Growing Up immortalises those very words in song and is followed by troubled teen anthem 17, where she's "living so wild and free / running red lights, staying out all night."
On Bad Girl, goth overlord Marilyn Manson pops up to lend a hand and prescient pick-me-ups Bitchin' Summer and Sippin' On Sunshine are further examples of this teen pop filtered through a late-twenties lens.
There are some markedly more mature moments, but these are still in the minority. Let Me Go is an emotive ballad with Lavigne's husband Chad Kroeger and Give You What You Like dissects a painful relationship from a jaded perspective. She even tries out edgy electronic pop with the dubstep-lite Hello Kitty, although the glove doesn't quite fit.
But for all its clinging onto youth, this record never once feels tragic. Here is a woman who knows exactly who she is, tries not to take herself too seriously, and has arguably written the album of her career.