Review Summary: Structured Rebellion
When Canadian singer-songwriter Avril Lavigne hit the pop scene with her debut album, Let Go, in June of 2002, the mainstream crowd was hit unexpectedly by an artist who did not want to sound like everyone else. She offered a listenable and mainstream sound that was held back, different and layered, but Lavigne knew how to write a successful song and construct an album that could not be labeled generic but at the same time would cater to the same crowd.
Let Go is a unique album in that it has a surprisingly good mix of rock elements which underlie the pop anthems. The album is filled with catchy songs with big choruses, but they are sung soulfully and honestly by Lavigne. Saying that, the material on display here is unique in that it’s different from most other mainstream stayers, but the album itself does not actually show that much diversity. The songs generally follow a similar pattern, and even though the album does not feel like one long song, a listener might find himself skipping to a selected few tracks that represent the best the album’s style has to offer.
Avril Lavigne had a part in the lyrics of every song on the album, and they read like a rough teenage poem dosed in angst and bitterness. This works fairly well within the overall gloominess of the album, even though at times a line passes by that will rise a sigh or two from the audience (‘Til you chose weed over me, you're so lame’ – Too Much To Ask), still in general they serve their purpose.
Songs like Losing Grip, the surprisingly heavy Unwanted and Naked show a perfect mix of rock and pop elements, with Naked starting with a well-executed intro featuring a distorted riff which slowly gets added layers of drums and a simple acoustic guitar chord progression. Unwanted falls into hard rock territory, a heavy riff dominates most of the song combining well with Lavigne’s aggressive vocal performance in the catchy and full blown chorus. The only weakness of an otherwise perfect rock number is the overuse of synths and special effects during the verses in the first half of the track. Hits Complicated and Sk8er Boi were designed to be world-wide hits, being built around memorable choruses and being two of the more fast paced tracks on the album.
Most of the songs are actually quite subdued in nature, only gaining some tempo during the choruses. My World, Anything But Ordinary and Nobody’s Fool are the pick of the bunch, with Anything But Ordinary being the best song on the album. A good slow process starts the song off with multiple instruments being slowly added to the mix. The song picks up pace with a heavier rock sound for the surprisingly emotional chorus. The latter has an infectious chorus, but the young singers attempt at rapping during the verses can become somewhat tiresome.
Sadly not all songs work quite as well. Tomorrow follows a similar style to the previous slower tempo tracks, but without a particularly memorable chorus and some weaker lyrics the song never gets off the ground. Too Much to Ask and Things I’ll Never Say are filler tracks also, even though neither are particularly horrible.
The best part of the album is gratefully Lavigne’s voice. The more subdued and melancholy nature of the release means that extra pressure was placed on the importance of a solid central vocal performance to keep the listener interested. Also since most songs decide to take a more layered and ‘full’, for lack of a better word, approach a weak voice could have been overpowered by the instruments. Lavigne comes through all the trails and delivers an emotional and attitude soaked performance. Thankfully her personality seemed to transfer well enough onto the cd.