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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Avril Lavigne: Let Go

I know that Avril Lavigne isn't really what you think of when you think of Alternative Rock, but hey, she is. Let Go is a fascinating debut album in that it's completely original and mostly talented. I can remember the first time I'd heard this album. I'd never heard of her, but my brother had a bootleg copy of Let Go which he'd let me borrow when I came home from my first year at college. At first I thought she was in her early 20's; a newer version of Alanis Morissette. When I learned she was barely a teenager, I was shocked. After all, she was so young and had such a powerful voice. I'm jumping ahead of myself though...

Let Go is one of my favorite albums by a female. Is it perfect, no. Is it without flaws, absolutely not. What it is, is a great representation of Avril the person and a wonderfully sung album. Songs like "Losing Grip" and "Unwanted" are Avril at her finest. They aren't lyrically the best she has to offer, but they set the listener up for all of the other "tough" Avril music. The songs are angry and annoyed... classic Avril. That was the image that she chose to portray in the beginning (see album cover) and it worked. Tracks like "Complicated" and "Anything but Ordinary" are quirky little pieces that are at times a little cheesy, yet they portray the lighter side to Avril's music. "Complicated" has a tremendously memorable chorus. "Why'd you have to go and make things so complicated" are lyrics that have been sung by moms and daughters alike, due to the song's popularity not only rock stations, but also on mix hits stations. "Anything but Ordinary" also has a memorable chorus where Avril shows off the higher side of her range in a tale about wanting to do things in a not-so-average fashion. And really... would we expect anything less from her?

The songs "Mobile" and "Tomorrow" are two of my favorite songs on Let Go. However, they have nothing in common except the previous. "Mobile" is a peppy, clever track about Avril's adolescence, but if not taken too literally is a moving for anyone. The happy feel that the song has to it, makes it stand apart from others on the album. If I'm not mistaken, this piece was featured in the romantic comedy, "Just Married". Yet another example of how cheerful the song is. On the other hand, "Tomorrow" is a pretty ballad that upon hearing the first couple of notes sounds as if it will be unjustifiably stupid. I mean, the song begins with the word "and" (i.e. "...and I wanna believe you, when you tell me that it'll be okay...") Why "and"? Did we come in on the song in mid sentence? That little annoyance aside, the song is a great one. Although slower than most of the others, except "I'm with You", this is definitely one of her most heartfelt and un-Avril tracks on Let Go ...and I love it!

There are some certain, and possibly personal, downfalls to this album. "I'm With You" is not one of my favorite songs. It's not that I feel it's a bad song, but I think it's very vague in it's meaning. I can't figure out for the life of me who she is singing to. The lyrics make her sound either like an abandoned orphan or a desperately lonely person. Either one is fine, but after 100+ listens, I still don't know the answer. She sounds pretty though as she's hitting those high notes. "My World" is cute, but doesn't sound anything like Avril. It sounds more like a combination of Hillary Duff and Meredith Brooks. Sure, the voice sounds like Avril, but the content and melody of the song is overly peppy... something we've come to know she's not. Again though, she sings it well - very well in fact, so I can't complain too much.

My only two huge complaints on the album are the two dumbest tracks on the album: "Sk8er Boi" and "Nobody's Fool". I feel like both songs speak for their own stupidity, but since this is a review and I have to assume the reader has not heard the tracks, I will expound. "Sk8er Boi" is goofy because it's all "punk" but the lyrics are pretty Disney. I suppose there's nothing wrong with it if you want to see "Zack and Cody" singing the latest from Blink 182. Avril is just as weird in this song. You can expect to see this one in the next Pixar film if, unbeknownst to me, it hasn't already made it there. As for "Nobody's Fool", someone should have told Avril that maybe flowing wasn't her forte. Yep, you heard me correct. She "raps" on the verses of this song. Yet again, this one is lumped right into the same lame, childish category as "Sk8er Boi". Doesn't she know that when she is a no talent rapper, it's not cool to say "damn"... it just becomes awkward. The only salvation for this song is that she has a nice sound when she sings the chorus. Definitely a young Alanis. So what on earth was her producer thinking when he said, "Oh yeah, that's a wrap on the rap" ? It makes me angry.

All in all, Let Go is great, though I know the males in my life would run in the opposite direction if I encouraged them to listen to this album from start to finish. At the prospect of risking my "mysterious, somewhat autonomous" reputation on Audio Overflow, I'd venture to say that this album is one of my favorites. It's not the best of the best, but it's a pretty good debut... and for a young teenager? Well, I just can't remember the last time I thought, "Man, if only I could get a copy of Lindsey Lohan's new album".

Key Tracks:
1. Losing Grip
2. Complicated
3. Mobile
4. Tomorrow
5. Anything but Ordinary

6 out of 10 stars

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