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Album Review

Avril Lavigne: “Goodbye Lullaby’’

March 8, 2011

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Canadian pop singer Lavigne has described this as her most personal album. And in its most tender and angst-ridden moments, it’s easy to imagine that some of the songs deal with her divorce from Sum 41 frontman Deryck Whibley, one of the album’s producers. But “Goodbye Lullaby’’ seems as much about the singer-songwriter’s self-examination — she co-wrote all the tracks and is the sole author on many — as about any outward relationships. She is by turns the familiar spunky hellraiser (bouncy, defiant first single “What the Hell’’ and the slashing “Smile’’), a defeatist (the heartfelt “Not Enough’’ and bleak piano ballad “Remember When’’), and an optimist (midtempo charmer “I Love You’’). And while “Goodbye’’ features some of her best vocalizing and is chock-full of the pop hooks that have become her trademark (thanks, in part, to collaborators such as Max Martin), Lavigne struggles lyrically. She often goes for easy “down on your knees, begging me please’’ rhymes and platitudes, throwaway slang and profanity, and skin-deep pronouncements such as “I’m not sure you know that the reason I love you is you being you, just you.’’ Sentiments like this are polished to a high gloss, but they make you wish she had dug a little deeper.

SARAH RODMAN

ESSENTIAL “Stop Standing There’’