Avril Lavigne
Under My Skin
Out Now Avril Lavigne is a strikingly attractive woman. Her huge dark
eyes, lank hair and ripped jeans make her the perfect
‘alternative’ preteen crush. She is so attractive, in
fact, that she is positively diverting. Which is more than can be
said of her music. For those with extremely short memories, Radio 2 picked up her
debut single ‘Complicated’ back in 2002 and unwittingly
created a phenomenon. Fourteen million copies of her first album
Let’s Go later, and she returns with her sophomore effort,
Under My Skin. Lavigne is now at the same crossroads faced by
artists like Alanis Morissette, who sold a similarly staggering
number of her debut Jagged Little Pill. Her follow-up Supposedly
Former Infatuation Junkie took a risk in exploring a less
commercial sound. Lavigne has taken no such a gamble. Under My Skin feels distinctly like a retread of Let’s
Go. There is the merest hint of a heavier direction thanks to the
crunching guitars on ‘I Always Get What I Want’ and
‘Freak Out’. Production duo ‘The Matrix’ have
been replaced after a wrangle over song-crediting by Chantal
Kreviazuk, most recognizable for songs featured on Dawson’s
Creek. Whilst the guitar amps have been turned up, lyrically Lavigne
is back in the same safe territory – the traumas of being a
teenager. First single and album highlight ‘Don’t Tell
Me’ describes the perils of an oversexed boyfriend and is
probably a reference to Lavigne’s vow of chastity.
‘Forgotten’ describes the end of a messy relationship,
and ‘Fall to Pieces’ tells of becoming emotionally
dependent on someone else. It’s as generic and as universal
as any record label executive could want. Lavigne has a writing credit on every song, but this is no
guarantee of quality. ‘Slipped Away’, dedicated to her
dead grandfather, does her no favours, (“I miss you/I miss
you so bad/I don’t forget you/Oh it’s so sad”).
Poetry it ain’t. Lavigne is a talented singer , but the
overall impression is of a pretty face acting as a front for the
boardroom, targeting a specific demographic. There is nothing
that suggests Under My Skin won’t shift another few million
CDs to a misunderstood youth. The irony is that the record
companies understand them enough to produce albums perfectly
targeted to prise away their pocket money.ARCHIVE: 5th week TT 2004