For me, Goodbye Lullaby, Lavigne’s fourth album, has been one of the most highly anticipated albums of my lifetime, as I have ultimately been anticipating it for seven years. While The Best Damn Thing was released in Spring 2007 (which was still quite a long time ago), I was not too thrilled with that album (save a handful of songs), and Under My Skin was released in Spring 2004. Many months ago (it was, in fact, close to a year ago), I read that this album would be a closer return to Lavigne’s earlier work as opposed to The Best Damn Thing, and I can agree with that.
While Goodbye Lullaby is not at all “heavy,” as some of the tracks found on 2002’s Let Go and 2004’s Under My Skin are (such as “Losing Grip,” “Unwanted,” “Take Me Away,” “Forgotten,” etc.), it is far from being the “cheerleader pop” (for lack of a better term) that The Best Damn Thing is, and Lavigne, with a majority of crisp melodies layered on top of simple acoustic accompaniment that is Goodbye Lullaby, affords her fans (such as this one of almost ten years) a very pleasant, refreshing experience. I do know quite a few people who loved The Best Damn Thing, so I apologize to them if I offend, but that certainly does not change my opinion.
In regards to The Best Damn Thing, Lavigne seemed to have retrograded, moving from a sophisticated, alternative style to adolescent high school craze with an array of songs that one might expect to hear at athletic games (such as “Girlfriend,” “The Best Damn Thing,” “I Don’t Have to Try,” etc.), and for that reason, I was very disappointed with the album as a whole with few exceptions (such as “Runaway,” “When You’re Gone,” “Innocence,” etc.). Goodbye Lullaby attempts to break away from that, painting a much more serene picture.
I purchased a physical copy of the album, so I have the benefit of seeing all of the graphics included in the package, and it is really beautiful; I consequently find myself quite impressed with that, as well. However, I also find myself in opposition to only one (rather trivial) feature; Lavigne, on the album cover (which, mind you, I do find very beautiful), looks rather morose, while the album’s content is primarily very relaxed and gleeful, dealing with lyrical themes such as being in love and enjoying the beauties that life has to offer. I reiterate, however, that the artwork (meaning all photographs, designs and additional art) is very beautiful.
The album opens with the very short (only 1:34) “Black Star,” and most fans should remember this from her Black Star fragrance commercial, in which a small portion of the song is featured. While I am slightly disappointed with the fact that the song is so short when I had been expecting it to be full-length, “Black Star” is one of my favorite songs from the album, as it is an incredibly beautiful, simple song accompanied by a simple but catchy melody composed of very high notes on the piano. The song sounds very much like a lullaby and would serve as a good introduction if it didn’t make such a rough transition into “What the Hell.”
“What the Hell,” the album’s first single, is the closest that the album comes to The Best Damn Thing, and, because of that, it, with the risk of using a cliché, sticks out like a sore thumb. When I first heard the song, I didn’t like it a whole lot, but when I began to find it consistently stuck in my head, it really began to grow on me, and I do really love it now, even though, again, it really doesn’t belong on this album. Next, we hear “Push,” a song that sounds a lot like Alanis Morissette’s style. I really like the song, especially with the male vocals, which I am assuming are Evan Taubenfeld’s, since he co-wrote the song with Lavigne.
The fourth track is titled “Wish You Were Here,” another one of my favorites on the album. “Wish You Were Here” operates as Goodbye Lullaby’s “When You’re Gone,” since it is nearly identical thematically (while it reminds me melodically of “Innocence”), and I am sure that it will be a single. “Smile” is a fast-paced song with attitude but is still a great deal of inches away from nearing The Best Damn Thing territory; “What the Hell” is definitely closer. “Stop Standing There” and “I Love You” are both mellow songs about being in love, and “Stop Standing There” is possibly the closest the album comes to Let Go, while “I Love You” is, for lack of a better description, an adorable song about loving someone for exactly who that person is, having no desire to change him or her. It is definitely a stand-out track, sounding a bit like something that would fit on Under My Skin, and it may just be me, but I think I hear a mandolin in the song.
The eighth track on the album is titled “Everybody Hurts.” Yes, when I first learned of the album’s track-listing a few months ago, I wondered if the song would be an R.E.M. cover, which it is not; it is, however, nearly identical thematically; “Everybody hurts some days,” the refrain advises. “It’s okay to be afraid. Everybody hurts; everybody screams. Everybody feels this way, and it’s okay.” It would seem to me like Lavigne draws inspiration from the R.E.M. song and attempts to recreate it for her generation. The song sounds a lot like something from Lavigne’s days prior to Let Go having been released.
“Not Enough” is nothing special, definitely not making any attempt to stand out on the album. However, like “Everybody Hurts,” it also reminds me of Lavigne’s “demo” era, reminding me especially of “Get Over It.” The tenth track, “4 Real,” has a beat and a melody that are guaranteed to stick with you, and while I definitely love the song, it sadly loses a bit of credibility due to its use of the number “4” in place of the word “for.” I am not amused when artists do that, especially not ones for whom I have a lot of respect. Pay mind to the fortunate fact that you are not Kesha (or should I say Ke$ha?), Avril.
Next on the album is “Darlin,” and I love this song because of how positive it is, seeming to be an attempt to cheer the listener up, reminding him that the world is a beautiful place in which he is loved. “Darlin” was written when Lavigne was only fourteen or fifteen years old, which is another reason that I love it. “Remember When” and “Goodbye” are slow, beautiful tracks with very similar stories; they are both memorandums in which the speaker apologizes for having to temporarily leave her lover physically but reminds him that he is very loved, while explaining why. I love “Goodbye,” because lyrically, it has sentimental value to me. I only wish that “Goodbye” had ended the same way as “Remember When,” that is, included a band at the end of the song. “Goodbye” seems to lack a component without that, especially since I expect it, but the strings are beyond gorgeous.
The album closes with an extended version of “Alice,” including an additional verse in between the original first and second verses. Fans will remember the song being featured on the Alice in Wonderland soundtrack last year, titled Almost Alice, and if one did not know that the song has ties to the film, either the title or the line “I found myself in Wonderland” should give that away. The standard edition of the album ends at this point, but the deluxe edition (the one that I purchased) includes acoustic versions of “What the Hell,” “Push” and “Wish You Were Here,” as well as the cover of Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” and a bonus DVD. Overall, I am very happy with the album; it was worth the wait and definitely worth the money.
NOTE: Please excuse a lacking of italics where they are necessary; this was copied and pasted from a Facebook note, and the formatting was not transmitted correctly.