1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 38

Under My Skin, by Avril Lavigne
Suggested by Rob Wagner

Is Avril Lavigne cool?

She was once, right? Then she wasn’t. Then she was, again, but ironically. Is she now properly cool again, unironically? Or is she cool in a nostalgic way, like Green Day or the Beastie Boys? Or is she just irrelevant?

It’s an odd thing, is “coolness” in celebrity circles. It’s ephemeral, fleeting, and yet it can be plotted and charted. It can be manufactured, but if you try too had to attain it you’ll never get near it.

Avril Lavigne, Canadian pop-punk princess, has certainly been cool at some point. To a certain subset of people, most likely female goth tweens fresh from Hot Topic. Now the grand old age of thirty-five (shock horror!), her career has gone through a number of step changes as she’s reinvented herself to match the zeitgeist. She’s like a mini-Madonna in a sense, with the same feeling of commercial cynicism.

She writes her own songs, but Under My Skin still comes across as manufactured and controlled. Her sound is always very Avril Lavigne, which should feel truthful and iconic but feels overproduced and forced. Her vocal range is limited by the songs themselves, and her stylised delivery stamps each track with the Canadian Rock Chick Seal of Approval.

You know what you’re getting when you listen to this.

What’s dismissed as generic to some will, of course, be lauded as Classic Avril by others. Under My Skin is a perfect snapshot of early angsty Avril, with every song a polaroid perfect example of what you’d expect. There’s a standout track, the chart-topping Happy Ending, although I also give props to the final bonus track on the UK release, the bombastic and arrogant I Always Get What I Want. Classic Avril!

I’m still undecided on the coolness of Avril Lavine, although as a 46-year-old man I suspect I have no influence on the matter either way. This album gets 5/10, because Happy Ending is a great song but likely the only song you’ll need.

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