Music News

Avril Lavigne

If you're among the tiny few who believed that jive about Avril being a punk at heart, you will be disabused of that notion by "He Wasn't." Sure, the tune sports some hey-hey-heys that a well-compensated publicist might describe as pogo-friendly, but the fuzz-toned guitars are more reminiscent of "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" than anything by the Thermals, and the ballsiest line is "This is when I start to bite my nails."

Don't do it, Av! Can't you take out your ragin' teen angst on something other than your poor, defenseless cuticles?

That said, there's no point in getting exercised about Under My Skin. Granted, those of you with body hair will probably be bored snotless by the way Our Gal vacillates between desperately needing that boy of hers ("Take Me Away") to desperately not needing him ("Together") from one song to the next. But her ability to sound spunky and sincere despite the machine-tooled riffology that surrounds her is impressive, sorta, and the blend of hooks and dumbness is occasionally capable of striking a mock power chord with anyone still in touch with his inner adolescent. "Don't Tell Me" is a chastity anthem for the thong generation, "Forgotten" overflows with you-go-girl! lines like "Don't patronize me, yeah, yeah, yeah," and "My Happy Endings" contains that guiltiest of pleasures, an unexpected S-bomb. Don't worry, mothers of America: The lyric sheet spells it "sh**."

Not that A.L. is a bad girl. She ends her disc with "Slipped Away," a sad song about her dead grandpa, and bless her for it. A real punk would probably have pissed on his grave.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts