Album Review: Love Sux

Peter Lennon reviews "pop punk pioneer" Avril Lavigne's newest release: Love Sux.

Peter Lennon
10th March 2022
After a decade of little-to-no commercial success for the genre, pop punk has been enjoying a revival in the mainstream, with upcoming artists, such as Mod Sun and Olivia Rodrigo, climbing the charts. It only makes sense that original pop punk pioneer Avril Lavigne would return to her roots with her seventh studio album: Love Sux.

After her underwhelming soft rock-pop 2019 effort Head Above Water, Lavigne has signed under the new DTA label, which is headed by Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker. Along with Barker, the album is also produced by John Feldman and Mod Sun, with writing and vocal collaborations with Machine Gun Kelley, black Bear, and Blink-182 bassist Mark Hoppus. The mixture of upcoming pop-punk artists and experienced veterans has produced an evolved sound, combining real instruments with synth strings, which have become a trademark of pop in the 2010s. As well as this, Love Sux threads more delicate sounds into its heavier, maximalist tracks. In particular, “Déjà vu” opens with a light arpeggio trill, leading to the more typical electric guitars.

This threading is such a small part of the album, but something that has hooked me to the rhythm of the album’s narrative. While Love Sux is about… well…. how love sucks, this is more than a catchy-hook, angry break-up album like Lavigne’s top-charting The Best Damn Thing (2007). Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty to enjoy as for as that goes – a personal favourite being the eponymous track’s chorus hook “No I don’t wanna get up/Laying in my bed, thinking love sucks” – but at its core there’s a real sense of growth in navigating love, which apparently doesn’t get any easier at 37.

The outrage and frustration of the relationship is felt most purely in the lead single “Bite Me”, while the album’s three collaborations provide a back-and-forth, she-said-he-said arguments that highlight that relationships can be dysfunctional on both parties. Meanwhile, the lighter, acoustic sounds that appear in the heavier ones make the truer rock ballads feel fluid with the narrative flow, rather than jarring and pace-disrupting. “Avalanche” and “Dare to Love Me” both take the time to highlight a vulnerable side, with the latter urging caution on expressing affections, particularly when they’re not fully there.

“Break of a Heartache” – the shortest track at only 1:51 – is a fantastic, energetic closer. The song caps off the album perfectly because it’s about recognising signs of a bad relationship early (from past experience) and shutting it down before it becomes constraining and toxic. There’s also a wicked satisfaction when the last lines of the album follow as: “don’t ruin my life/no not this time motherfucker so I guess/it’s goodbye.”

All in all, Love Sux is quite possibly Avril Lavigne’s most fully realised album since her debut Let Go (2002). Experimental instrumentation with the pop punk revival, a clear album narrative, and signature tongue-and-cheek lyrics makes for a career best. Lavigne has found herself in good company and I hope that this will put an end to the Label hopping, confused albums that had marked her career throughout the 2010s.

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AUTHOR: Peter Lennon
English Literature undergraduate. Although I primarily write for the Courier's Film section, I do love helping out in the Televsion and Gaming sections as well. I also organise and host livestreams/radio shows as FilmSoc's inaugural Head of Radio. Twitter: @PeterLennon79

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