Review Summary: Maybe this should have been an EP.
Head Above Water is unfortunately not an album. It is one half inspired, one half recycled, at least on a production standpoint. Even with Lauren Christy returning to co-write some of the songs, it’s still an enormous letdown.
“It Was in Me” has stellar programming, but if you listen closely, you’d see that it sounds a little too much like “I’m With You” from her debut, especially during the chorus. And “Birdie” isn’t half bad- it’s actually the best track on here, and it has the best lyrics as well. Then we get to the cheerleader pep of “Dumb Blonde,” featuring Nicki Minaj. Again, it’s pretty good, but does it fit with the rest of the album" Absolutely not. It’s out of place. And this would have also worked just as well without Minaj.
Yet after five insipid filler tracks, including the biggest dud of all, “Souvenir,” the final song, “Warrior,” comes on with yet more piano strokes and strings. It has a somewhat decent melody and not much else going for it. By this point, the disappointment is too great for anyone to truly enjoy this closing track.
Perhaps the biggest problem with this album is that she’s lost her charisma. Lavigne may not be a teenager anymore, but that doesn’t mean that she can’t still make edgy music. Unfortunately, those early 00s days of mall punk and post-grunge appeal are out of fashion, so to return to those roots would be rather risky. Still, taking those risks would have resulted in something better. Instead, she plays it safe, and that’s just not the Avril that we know. She only keeps her head above water for a couple of tracks or so before sinking under-- way, way down under.
Do yourself a favor and stick with the singles, as those were the best tracks that this half-baked effort had to offer.
“Head Above Water”
“Birdie” (BEST TRACK)
“It Was in Me”
Overall Rating: ★★