A largely triumphant return...

An album that’s meant to tell a story; of the teen-pop star’s trials and tribulations. Avril Lavigne’s sixth studio album – her first since overcoming Lyme disease - establishes itself as honest right from the get-go.

From an all-baring album cover of monochromatic nudity that’s meant to reiterate her growth into a serious song-writer to the poignant title of the album ‘Head Above Water’- everything about the record is meant to represent growth and fights won.

Starting off with title track, ‘Head Above Water’, the 12-track production sets itself up for great things, with Avril’s signature sound and vocals take you back in time, while still making you look to the future.

However, immediately following this strong start come ‘Birdie’ and ‘I Fell In Love With The Devil’, two tracks that make no impact, and adds no value to the record, despite being decent tracks individually.

But Keep Holding On- esque tracks ‘Tell Me It’s Over’ and ‘It Was In Me’ with its soaring vocals, and slow-build instrumentation remind you why Avril was as big as she was; because of her raw talent as a songwriter and performer.

‘Dumb Blonde’ is a fun track that boosts your confidence, and gets you jumping around. The problem with this one lies in its awkward positioning within the track list, right between heartfelt ‘ Tell Me It’s Over’ and ‘It Was In Me’, comes ‘Dumb Blonde’ which seems to have no place in the journey Avril wants to take us on.

A surprising stand-out comes in the form of ‘Souvenir’ which makes an appearance right after the half-way point of the album. The track which starts off sounding pretty run-of-the-mill, ends up becoming a favourite for its simple, yet sweet lyricism.

Beyond this, however, its track after track of soft, husky, meant-to-be serious music which leans unfortunately towards slightly juvenile, from ‘Crush’ to ‘Goddess’- a track with childish lyrics, and out of tune vocals, which while may have been purposeful move, does not make for a pleasant listening experience.

The tail end of the production with ‘A Bigger Wow’ and ‘Love Me Insane’ redeem Avril’s efforts and talent, while the brilliant instrumentation of ‘Warrior’ makes for the perfect ending to an album meant to tell the story of her fight; it reminds you that she is a warrior, in a fight that she won.

Overall, ‘Head Above Water’ is a collection of eclectic tracks and done well this could make for an element of surprise that keeps your ears perked in anticipation. Here, however, it makes for sonic inconsistencies that leaves you dissatisfied, wanting the bigger and better things that Avril is definitely capable of.

7/10

Words: Malvika Padin

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