When Avril Ramona Lavigne dropped her new single "Head Above Water" and announced that a new album was well on its way in September of 2018, fans of the "Complicated" hit-maker worldwide were left shaking! Lavigne's last studio album was the 2013 self-titled effort, marking the longest gap between studio albums in her career, before that a four year gap from 2007's The Best Damn Thing to 2011's Goodbye Lullabye held the record.
With 6 years since her last studio album and a barrage of personal struggles, a determined Lavigne wrote most of her new record Head Above Water from the comfort of her couch thanks to a crippling battle with Lyme disease.
The album opens with the title track "Head Above Water," a soaring moment for Lavigne which felt like a familiar return to form upon release, the delicate piano chords building before a powerful chorus that calls for strength in desperate times, I still have this song on repeat. "Birdie" once again recalls a Lavigne we know all too well, sounding more like the roots of her 2004 Under My Skin era.
The opening strings on "I Fell In Love With The Devil" set the tone for a more cinematic moment where Lavigne tackles what we believe is love and sings "someone send me an angel, to lend me a halo, I fell in love with the devil, please save me from this hell." It's a fair contribution to the album, but not my favorite by any means.
Trekking along, the previously released second single "Tell Me It's Over" is everything, the soul-infused mid-tempo record is some of my favorite work from Lavigne. I would go as far as to say I'd rather enjoy an album chock-full of these bluesy hits.
"Dumb Blonde" is the third single and marks the latest release from Head Above Water, featuring a killer verse from rap superstar Nicki Minaj on the bridge. The song was co-written with pop music royalty Bonnie McKee, best known for her work on Katy Perry's mammoth Teenage Dream era, McKee was responsible for "Teenage Dream," "California Girls" and "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" if that's telling of the larger than life chorus on "Dumb Blonde," this song is major!
Changing pace, "It Was In Me" takes a more personal route for a self-empowering anthem, giving us everything we love about an Avril Lavigne song. "Souvenir" keeps in line with the familiar sounds of Avril Ramona, it's gorgeous and energetic with its roll down the windows and scream at the top of your lungs chorus, it feels like a radio hit.
"Crush" opens with melancholic strings which immediately sets the stage, stealing the innocence of the typical "crush," Lavigne's reliance on the word is a much heavier, it kind of guts me in the best way possible. When "Goddess" kicks in, we're completely unprepared for the infectious hook, I can already hear the bootleg remixes kicking the energy up on this bop.
"He treats me like a goddess, goddess, he thinks I'm sexy in my pajamas, the more I am a hot mess, the more he goes bananas..." - "Goddess" by Avril Lavigne
"Bigger Wow" showcases a more playful Avril Lavigne as she paints a pretty picture with her lyrics for the feel-good anthem. I can already hear "Bigger Wow" in the trailer for some uplifting comedy starring one of the guys from The Office.
Literally within a second of "Love Me Insane" opening, it's a certified Avril record with those signature "yeaaah yeaaaah's" blaring front and center, another glorious moment for Lavigne before moving into the closing track. The anthemic realm of "Warrior" delivers a thunderous self-empowering message, tying all of the stories from Head Above Water together for a cohesive effort from Lavigne that in my opinion, stands as some of her best work to date.
Now we're just waiting for that rumored tour announce...