Following a six year break from a studio album release, Avril Lavigne is back with a new sound. Head Above Water provides a more contemplative insight into Lavigne’s life, showcasing a transition from the pop-punk days of ‘Complicated’ and ‘Sk8er Boi’, towards a more emotional soundtrack.
Lavigne describes the record as ‘a true emotional journey’, with clear reference to, and inspiration drawn from, her own personal battle with Lyme disease. The album signals a more mature insight into her mind and music, with the vulnerability and depth reminiscent of previous albums, such as that of Goodbye Lullaby. It comes as no surprise that the sound and message of the album has developed, particularly given the journey Lavigne has made before writing this album.
The title track is a soaring reverberation of raw and emotional lyricism, defining the album’s message of resilience and setting the listener up with great expectations. In addition, the final track, ‘Warrior’, offers another power ballad but with a different message of self-assurance, closing off the album’s messages of personal growth and strength.
The second half of the album differs from the first, in that it transitions from power ballads on inner strength, to a more loose set of tracks considering heartbreak and relationships gone by.
Head Above Water may be a relatively conflicted album, but it displays great potential
Head Above Water is a journey through resilience, heartbreak, and determination, yet the message is somewhat lost by the tracklist. The placing of some of the tracks on the album are a bit awkward, causing the message to be lost in the midst of a couple of less poignant tracks. ‘Dumb Blonde’ is a fun and bouncy tune with a marginally effective message on female empowerment, yet it loses some of its potency when considered next to the the two songs either side, the emotive Kelly Clarkson-esque tracks of ‘Tell Me It’s Over’ and ‘It Was In Me’.
Avril Lavigne came to fame with catchy pop-punk, and has transitioned from the days of camouflage pants to a more mature sound, complete with acoustic guitar and introspection. Listening to the album, Lavigne’s use of high notes and upbeat tracks is demonstrably hers, yet a somewhat confused record has been produced. ‘Bigger Wow’ and ‘Love Me Insane’ are great tracks individually, but are somewhat lost amongst the power balls and whimsical tunes of the rest of the album.
Head Above Water may be a relatively conflicted album, but it displays great potential. Each track is an effective message of the struggles Avril Lavigne has faced in the last few years, and are emotive, thoughtful, and uplifting in turn. Lavigne may not have quite found her new musical identity, but the album is a testament to her struggles and provides a message of hope and resilience.