Review Summary: A beacon of light in the pop world, Avril Lavigne's debut album is a staggering combination of attitude, melody, and emotion.
It's hard to believe that Avril Lavigne transformed into such a generic pop icon, considering the angst that used to be bundled within her songwriting in the early 2000's. Lavigne might have been signed to Arista - the "accessible" label as it is - but what really brought her to fame is the partnership with the songwriting team The Matrix (now defunct) to work on the smash hits populating the first half of the album. The result... well, it's hard to accurately describe the magnitude of this record's success.
It's clear that The Matrix's work with the singer paid off, as the singles contain a certain appeal without losing any songwriting magic. "Losing Grip" captures Lavigne blazing through the chorus behind crunchy grunge-like guitar work, attributing further to the "rebellious" persona she was going for at the time. "Complicated" has become a mainstay to teen alienation and well... life simply being complicated, and yet pulls it off with finesse and with a refreshingly positive vibe. "Sk8er Boi" takes a direction akin to pop-punk, as Avril brings another injection of infectious vocal work, peppy but not overbearing.
And so it goes. However, looking away from the hits, other tunes are just as solid in the songwriting department. "Things I'll Never Say" begins with a memorable brisk vocal melody before settling into its poppy beat. Lavigne's vocals are particularly resonant and generally hopeful. "Mobile", however, is an absolute triumph, speaking of uncertainty and the troubles of moving out of a place or comfort zone. The acoustic melody evolves into heavier distorted guitar chords with that aforementioned "crunch" as Avril Lavigne's voice becomes a soaring powerhouse.
Songs like "Mobile" and "Losing Grip", as well as the surprisingly heavy "Unwanted" may just be enough to dispel Avril Lavigne's claim that this album is simply a pop record. For rockers, there are plenty of heavy riffs intermixed with climatic melodies, especially during the choruses. In fact, "Unwanted"'s chorus verges on alternative metal, with the guitar and bass lines in unison in a power-laden groove. The extra distortion definitely adds to the invigorating nature of the climaxes pervading many of the songs.
Records generally aren't perfect though, and this album is no exception at all. The biggest gripe about this album (probably due to age) is the lyrical immaturity. Essentially, you've heard it all on other pop records; life, love, breakups, hookups, and the like. Needless to say, the music trumps the lyrical work, and the delivery of said lyrics by Avril attempts to overshadow the obvious simplicity and faults.
All in all, though, Let Go is a fantastic debut by a pop artist that would soon drop the hard rock in favor of even more accessibility. While it would be nice to see a return to this style, 16 million units sold suggest that Let Go can still be on peoples' minds and stay there for years to come. Highly recommended.