Avril Lavigne
The Best Damn Thing



by Dave de Sylvia EMERITUS
April 15th, 2007 | 131 replies

Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The fact that she doesn’t try to make every track downbeat and super-personal makes The Best Damn Thing one of the more emotionally honest albums of the year.

Irony and pop music just don’t mix.

Ask John Lennon, he knows. Hell, ask Alanis Morissette. Ask her what irony even means.

‘Girlfriend’ is the lead single and opening track from Avril Lavigne’s third album The Best Damn Thing, the follow-up to the psycho depressive teen from hell soundtrack that was 2004’s Under My Skin. ‘Girlfriend’ is a bitterly facetious slice of punky pop in which Avril plays the part of that spiteful bitch who steals everybody else’s boyfriend just because she can, because “I can do it better,” whatever “it” may be. As if to drive the point home, the track’s pounding beat and hook are clearly inspired by cheerleader anthem ‘Mickey,’ originally performed by Wayne Campbell, so anybody even slightly familiar with Avril’s rocker-chick persona should be privy to the marked contrast on display: she’s parodying something. Just what it is, and just how well she does it, may be up for debate, but it’s fairly clear she’s not being entirely serious.

At least, it would seem to be clear. Although the irony seems to be lain on with all the subtlety of Tara Reid’s plastic surgeon, it’s clearly not thick enough for some. One parent, writing on Amazon.com, states, “I have already informed [my nine-year old daughter] she will not be allowed to buy this latest CD… having seen the video and heard "Girlfriend" several times, I am less than impressed with the message Avril is sending out to impressionable, insecure young girls everywhere.” Even the usually liberal Washington Post had trouble with the subject matter, noting, “[‘Girlfriend’ is] the worst thing here, a nasty and regrettable slice of anti-sisterliness.” The latter is at least right about something: ‘Girlfriend’ is the worst cut on offer, but precisely because it’s so over-the-top and satirical, using annoying buzz phrases like “she’s, like, so whatever,” the kind of thing only people who’ve lived outside of popular culture for a number of years would say. Like your parents.

‘Girlfriend’ is one of six tracks on the album to feature the writing and production talents of Dr. Luke Gottwald, better known as the architect of Kelly Clarkson’s smash singles ‘Since U Been Gone’ and ‘Behind These Hazel Eyes.’ Luke’s production is distinctive in that it emphasises synthetic sounds over live instruments, merging electronic beats with live drum tracks (provided by Blink-182’s Travis Barker, Sum 41’s Stevo and session maestro/Vandal Josh Freese) with mixed results. Of the album’s four producers, Luke’s mixes are the more interesting and experimental, however they frequently suck the life out of what are essentially rock n’ roll tracks- this may be great for selling a melody but does little to exploit the natural energy created by well-conceived songwriting and Lavigne’s expressive, if not particularly skilful, vocals. ‘Keep Holding On’ is a stay-over from the Lord of the Eragons soundtrack, a pop ballad which demonstrates his gift for spotting and isolating great melodies. Annoyingly, his best work is the b-side from the ‘Girlfriend’ single; ‘Alone’ was left off the album presumably because it’s so similar to ‘Runaway’ and ‘I Can Do Better,’ however it’s far more engaging than either of those lethargic rockers.

Producer Rob Cavallo (Green Day, Goo Goo Dolls) has more success. He was drafted specifically for his work on ballads by the aforementioned bands, particularly the Goo Goo Dolls’ ‘Iris,’ although his contribution was eventually limited to just the one track. ‘Innocence’ has shades of Vanessa Carlton’s ‘A Thousand Miles’ and ‘My Happing Ending,’ a hit from Under My Skin. Cavallo’s bare, simplistic orchestral arrangement is inspired, gradually creeping into the mix as the intensity builds in the latter half. It’s easily one of the most affecting and most personal songs on the disc, catching Avril in a rare moment of vulnerability, singing: “This moment is perfect, please don’t go away/‘Cause I need you now, and I’ll hold on to it/Please don’t let it pass you by.” Cavallo also succeeds in bringing out Lavigne’s best vocal performance, tapping into the cracked, Alanis Morissette-like style she exploited on her debut but has forsaken for a more abrasive punk-pop manner in recent years.

Butch Walker repeats his cameo performance on Under My Skin, turning in three co-writing credits, all of which he produces himself. The ex-Marvelous 3 singer presides over the title track, a glam-infused stomper with aggressive background shouts and the cheesiest of middle sections (even by glam rock standards) in which Avril spells out, in the style of an American football cheer, her name as a pneumonic, with each letter spelling out a different way in which a girlfriend (i.e. her) deserves to be treated. Ballad and expected next single ‘When You’re Gone’ may be the best of the bunch, though it’s superficially like any number of pop-rock ballads, with contemplative lyrics lending the album a little bit of emotional depth. The theme, separation from a lover, is universal, and the lyrics simple: “I always needed time on my own/I never thought I’d need you there when I cried/And the days feel like years when I’m alone/And the bed where you lie is made up on your side.”

‘Everything Back But You’ has shades of ’99 Red Balloons’ and Sum 41 (it’s an incestuous album all the way through- Luke even lifts a guitar melody from a Marvelous 3 song), and a clever chorus in which Avril dumps her unappreciative boyfriend, singing, “you wrote: I wish you were her/You left out the “e”/You live without me,” and then throws out all intelligence points gained by asking, cluelessly, “why are guys so lame?” Husband and Sum 41 frontman Deryck Whibley produces two tracks, both co-written by Avril’s former guitarist Evan Taubenfield. His influence is notable in the chugging metallic guitars of ‘One Of Those Girls’ and the overlapping vocal lines of ‘Contagious,’ both trademarks of his own band’s sound.

If nothing else, Dr. Luke’s emergence as the main collaborator on the album removes any lingering doubts about whether or not Avril composes her own material; for the third album straight, she’s dispensed with the majority co-writers and producers, and still there’s a coherent sonic thread which runs through the songs. Thematically, there’s little continuity between them: She raps “you could do so much better” on ‘Girlfriend,’ while the very next song is titled ‘I Can Do Better.’ The brashness of the rock tracks, by the end of which we’re in no doubt as to how self-assertive she is, are a nice contrast to more accomplished introspective tracks. Overall, the range of emotions and material on display make The Best Damn Thing a much easier listen than the monotonous angst of Under My Skin- and the very fact that she doesn’t attempt to make every track downbeat and super-personal probably makes it one of the more emotionally honest albums of the year.

And isn’t it ironic?

Recent reviews by this author
And So I Watch You From Afar GangsAll Time Low Dirty Work
Linkin Park A Thousand SunsAdebisi Shank This is the Second Album
AFI Crash Lovefun. Aim and Ignite
user ratings (468)

Comments:Add a Comment 
April 16th 2007


Ask John Lennon, he knows. Hell, ask Alanis Morissette. Ask her what irony even means.

No, but seriously, this is a kickass review. I have high hopes for this. I'll probably get it tonight. The whole second paragraph is fantastic.

That being said, I'm pretty sure it's just Eragon and not Lord of the Eragons, unless you were being sarcastic. :lol:

edit/of course you are, you aspiring avril, you.This Message Edited On 04.16.07

Staff Reviewer
April 16th 2007


oh hey look Butch Walker in an SOP review how 'bout that

and then throws out all intelligence points gained

she can gain them all back (and then some) just as easily :norty:
Great review, though. I was worried after hearing "Girlfriend" that this album would be hell.

The Sludge
April 16th 2007


Album Rating: 3.0

This might actually sound like something I'd like, even if I despise "Girlfriend."

April 16th 2007


I think she's caught on to something with 'I Can Do Better.' In terms of albums and placed right after 'Girlfriend!'

Avril, I knew you had it in you. :]

First half of this album is good.

also, this made me laugh so hard:
[quote=the best damn thing]I hate it when a guy doesn't understand why a certain time of month, I don't want to hold his hand.[/quote]This Message Edited On 04.15.07

April 16th 2007


haha Avril is my guilty pleasure...i want this

April 16th 2007


good review btw

April 16th 2007


Album Rating: 2.5

good review..

the album just irritates me, on the upbeat songs, whats up with the cheering parts, like the one in girlfriend.

the song the best damn thing is just well..irritating. the verses using her newfound "skill" of talking/rapping style. I Dont Have To Try is just plain stupid....

Songs i kinda liked were - Everything back but you, I can do better, and One of those girls.

April 16th 2007


Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Three-point-five, really? Can't see it to be honest.

In the intro shouldn't it be "teen-from-hell" rather than "teen from hell"? And also in the last paragraph the apostrophe should go before the full stop at " 'I Can Do Better.' "

Yes it's ironic but the message in Girlfriend is not good. Fifteen-year-olds don't generally do irony.

It still feels like I'm waiting for the new Avril album because at the moment I'm disappointed with this. This Message Edited On 04.16.07

April 16th 2007


Yeah, it's not lord of the Eragons," it's just "Eragon."

Very good review.

Digging: Protest the Hero - Palimpsest

April 16th 2007


I didn't, sorta. :]

April 16th 2007


I can't confess to liking Lavigne, but in my opinion, songs that are jokes never really grab the attention of anyone with a brain, and only serve to irritate after a few listens.

The Jungler
April 16th 2007


Meh, the tracks I've heard off this are far less than great. I probably won't check it out.
Nice job.

April 17th 2007


ugh, her personality turns me off her music.

April 17th 2007


Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

So I gave this a proper listen. It has some decent moments. Too many shit moments though. For instance, the chorus in The Best Damn Thing is catchy and all that, but the verses are disgraceful. When You're Gone is decent. Everything Back But You is the closest to actual Pop-Punk I've heard her go. It's not that bad. Hot is decent too. Innocence is servicable. Too much of it is generic though, it's really not very original. Judging from this there is something there - enough to produce a pretty good album someday. This just isn't it. Not too bad though. This Message Edited On 04.17.07

April 17th 2007


ok i hate girlfriend, and lavigne! but i havent heard this album so wo't rate it yet

April 17th 2007


I dislike her accent.. "BET-TUR"

April 17th 2007


Album Rating: 1.5

I don't think it's obvious she's "not entirely serious," Avril considers herself an artist, and she.... well, has no sense of humor.

Worst CD I've heard in years.

Two-Headed Boy
April 18th 2007


I heard from the beginning to about six tracks in at my CD store. Honestly it's abysmal.

But the review was great nevertheless. Nice job, spat.

April 18th 2007


This is so good. I almost gave it a 4 on pure fun alone.
But this:

I don't think it's obvious she's "not entirely serious," Avril considers herself an artist, and she.... well, has no sense of humor.

Worst CD I've heard in years.

Honestly? It may not be obvious, but why does she have to be? It separates those that like it cause it's catchy, and those who like it because they get the satire. I still think it's a horrible song because satire doesn't make up for a horrible package, but I at least respect her for it.

And how quickly we forget Hawthorne Heights and Trivium released albums just last year...

April 19th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

This is real good. Thanks for reviewing it or I might never have even listenedt o it.

You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile


Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Site Copyright 2005-2020 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy