Avril Lavigne Swore She'd Never Grow Up, Then Made a Totally Grown-Up Song With 'Head Above Water'


Avril Lavigne kicked off her final album, 2013's self-titled LP, with a lead single known as "Here's to Never Growing Up," which -- as you may most likely think about even in case you've by no means heard the highest 20 hit -- celebrated staying up all evening, hitting up outdated haunts and getting drunk on no matter liquor you could possibly get your palms on.

More than a decade faraway from the youthful sneer of "Complicated" and "Sk8er Boi" on the time, Lavinge made it clear that even when she wasn't instantly spinning her bratty teen antics into ear sweet, she may at the least make songs about remembering that individual -- and possibly even attempting to nonetheless be that individual. (What is "Hello Kitty," a music from that very same album, if not proof that with sufficient dedication, you can also act like an obnoxious 17-year-old once more?) In one away or one other, Lavigne's music at all times took you again to the summer time of 2002 quicker than a music actually known as "2002" ever may.

But with the primary style of her long-awaited sixth album, "Head Above Water," Lavigne has gone and made a very grown-up music. The 33-year-old's music has actually by no means lacked drama, however right here, the battle to remain alive isn't strictly metaphorical: The music instantly addresses her struggles with Lyme illness, which have stored her out of the general public for the previous few years.

"It can be the primary music I wrote from my mattress throughout one of many scariest moments of my life," she wrote in a letter to followers asserting the one. "I had accepted demise and will really feel my physique shutting down. I felt like I used to be drowning. Like I used to be going beneath water and I simply wanted to come back up for air.... Unable to breathe. Praying to God for Him to assist me simply maintain my head above the water." While mendacity in her mom's arms, she began to show these emotions into lyrics, and finally introduced them to co-writers Travis Clark and Steven Moccio.

The music they got here up with checks few of the containers of a quintessential Avril Lavigne single. While she hardly shunned slower or extra stripped-down materials throughout her 5 studio albums to this point -- "I'm With You" is likely one of the largest hits of her profession -- Lavigne's discography has principally been outlined by upbeat, in-your-face guitar-based pop-punk tunes, and the string-backed piano balladry of "Head Above Water" is a break even from her softer materials. That's actually applicable for what she's singing about -- a grave story deserves, nicely, not than the type of Toni Basil-aping beat you'd discover on her 2007 smash "Girlfriend." But the music may additionally sign one thing of a slate-clearing for a singer recognized for a really particular persona in an business that has modified seismically since her final album.

There's a historical past of pop artists releasing emotionally charged, intimate piano ballads as a strategy to set the stage for a rebranding following tough chapters of their private lives: Just take a look at Demi Lovato, whose 2011 ballad "Skyscraper" helped her escape of the Disney field by seemingly touching upon the "bodily and emotional points" that led her to hunt remedy the earlier 12 months. Or take a look at Kesha, who dismantled the hard-partying, dentists'-worst-nightmare character followers met on "TiK ToK" with "Praying," which alluded to her authorized battle in opposition to former producer Dr. Luke and teased an album that sounded little like her earlier information. Sometimes in pop, you may appeal to extra consideration with a whisper than a shout. (Or in Kesha's case, a completely bonkers excessive notice.)

Of course, it's means too early to inform whether or not "Head Above Water" is a correct indication of what the remainder of the report appears like. It's completely attainable that the music is the musical equal to a TV present's "beforehand on" phase -- only a somber catch-up about the place she's been, with a extra standard single ready within the wings with hair streaked pink and center fingers all warmed up. Lavigne has labored on new music with Lauren Christy, who, as one half of The Matrix manufacturing group, co-wrote Lavigne's early hits, and the remainder of the album's rollout may nonetheless decide up the place Lavigne left off in 2013 (or 2003), each artistically and commercially. But possibly "Head Above Water" is asserting one thing greater than only a comeback; right here, it appears like Lavigne is aiming for a reset.