Review Summary: You might say it's sad that Lavigne's debut album would still hold up as her best 13 years after its release. More importantly, if you're not a fan of her newer work, this album will take you back to the peak of her talent.
Avril Lavigne's music has ventured into places far and wide since her meteoric debut in 2002. What started as enjoyable punk rock from a 16 year old has turned into a mix of dubstep and technopop. She's surely matured as a person (her maturity was evident from the get-go). But it's her music that has regressed to quite some extent. Truly a shame, because the majority of the material she has released as of late is not nearly as appealing or infectious as this masterful and consummate debut.
Lead-off single "Complicated" remains among her most popular tracks to this day, and deservedly so. Lavigne's infectious and alluring vocals are beyond what is expected of a 16-year old. Keep in mind, she was in fact 16 when this record was released. Not to mention, she jumped from label to label after fighting for control of what kind of music she wanted to make. This mantra is undoubtedly intriguing, at least from my perspective. At just 16 years of age, Lavigne proved herself to be unafraid to make the music she wanted to make, rather than to appease what others wanted. This confidence and certainty was the benchmark for how terrific this record would be. Getting back on topic, "Complicated", along with album opener "Losing Grip" are trademark example of Lavigne's talent, as well as the instrumentation backing these tracks. The musicality is showcased with daunting ease and exquisite mastery. Tracks such as "I'm With You" show the pinnacle of Lavigne's vocalism and lyricism. While very commonplace for a teenager, Lavigne performs "I'm With You", among others, with tenacity and maturation, the likes of which were and are hard to come by.
"Sk8er Boi", is an up-tempo, enjoyable track that brings a smile to your face even after repeated listens. I find myself, years and years after initially hearing this track, continuing to succumb to its catchy hooks, imposing guitar solo, and impeccable vocal performance from Lavigne. Though a bit simplistic lyrically ("He was a boy/She was a girl/Can I make it any more obvious""), the track succeeds in that facet, and furthermore, gains a relatable and listenable magnetism to its merit. "Unwanted", the sixth track of the record, opens with a picture perfect blend of electric and acoustic guitars that's impossible not to enjoy. Lavigne's voice comes off as having a bit of twang to it, but that does not take away its credibility in the slightest. All throughout this record, Lavigne proves herself and her songcraft to be "Anything but Ordinary", another track that is very demonstrative in just how talented this girl is. This track, like many, is typical and expected of teenage lyricism, though the aforementioned maturity gives it quite the boost to make it worth multiple listens.
Overall, this album holds up as Lavigne's best. It's too bad she didn't maintain this style of music. But, as mentioned, she wanted to make her music and not someone else's. Even with that said, however, if her vision was to transgress from punk rock to technopop, then I sadly do not look forward to her future discography.