Home Read Classic Album Review: Avril Lavigne | Under My Skin

Classic Album Review: Avril Lavigne | Under My Skin

The Canadian pop-rocker grows up fast on her more mature sophomore album.

This came out in 2004 – or at least that’s when I got it. Here’s what I said about it back then (with some minor editing):


Kids. They grow up so fast, don’t they?

Last time we all heard from Avril Lavigne, she was a little skater-punk, jumping around in ties and tanks while singing crunchy bubblegum rock about Sk8er Bois, Complicated posers and junior high affairs of the heart. But now, that’s all, like, so yesterday.

Avril was barely old enough to drive when she wrote the songs on her her first album, Let Go, which went on to sell a whopping 14 million copies worldwide. Now she’s almost 20. She may not be a woman yet, but she’s not a little girl anymore. She’s been around the block a few times. She’s had her heart broken. She’s figured out a few things. And like anyone else her age, it’s all made her a little wiser, a little sadder, a little more mature and a little stronger.

That’s probably the easiest and most honest way to sum up Lavigne’s sophomore album Under My Skin. On the surface, you won’t hear too much that’s radically different on these dozen radio-ready rockers and girl-power ballads, most of which were were co-written either with Winnipeg singer-songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk or her hubby, Our Lady Peace frontman Raine Maida. Avril still juices her pop hooks and melodies with plenty of metallic guitars and hard-hitting arena-rock rhythms. And most of her songs are still about the boys she wants who don’t want her any more, or vice versa.

But as reflected in Avril’s slightly gothy new look, these tracks are a few shades darker and starker. Chantal’s influence is fairly easy to hear in the rich keyboards, moody melodies and more contemplative grooves that underpin cuts like Together, Forgotten and the closing ballad Slipped Away, about the death of her grandfather. Lyrically, Lavigne’s stance is also a little tougher and more independent, if still tempered by the duality and contradictions of a typical teenage personality.

Sometimes — like on the romantic rocker Fall to Pieces — she’s still the girly-girl who just wants to “cry in front of you.” And sometimes — like on the boys-suck pop-punk of He Wasn’t — she’s the ticked-off girl who spends Saturday sitting “on the bed alone / staring at the phone.” But more often — like on the anthemic Don’t Tell Me — she’s the girl who knows she’s “better off alone anyway” than giving it up to a jerk who just wants to get in her pants. Parents ought to love her for that one, and why not? In today’s submissive prosti-tot pop world, Avril’s backbone and honesty — not to mention the fact she actually wears clothes — are encouraging.

She may be growing up fast. But it Under My Skin is any indication, she’s gonna be OK.