Things have certainly changed for Canadian rocker Avril Lavigne since 2004's sophomore
effort Under My Skin. Where that album portrayed a petulant, pre-marriage Avril on angst
overload - she moaned about boys, boys and, well, boys - latest disc The Best Damn Thing
doesn't so much as moan about boys, rather it showcases Lavigne in a far feistier mood,
kicking their asses and taking names respectively.
It's a direction best offset by lead single Girlfriend, a swaggering, bitchy empowerment
anthem that sees bad Avril tangle with her distinctly more geeky counterpart ('cause
she's 'like, so whatever') for the affections of her current squeeze. It's confident,
though at times complacently arrogant lyrics typify the standpoint Lavigne's taken as
regards The Best Damn Thing. It's an assured, though not entirely fulfilling, set of songs
designed to get fans off their asses and back into the mosh-pit - and to that degree, it
works an absolute treat.
There's no playing the lowly underdog here, as the likes of I Can Do Better and
Everything Back But You act as proverbial middle fingers to wasteful lovers, with Lavigne
breaking into hysterical giggles at the climax of the former. When You're Gone and
Innocence meanwhile show that Avril certainly hasn't lost her ear for a cracking power ballad, with
the combination of subtle strings and gorgeous piano working especially well throughout
Innocence's loved-up tale of (you'd assume) Lavigne's not-so-recent marriage to Sum
41 frontman Deryck Whibley.
Long time fans will doubtless notice the writing credits for Lavigne's former lead
guitarist Evan Taubenfeld on the likes of Innocence, Hot and One Of Those Girls -
arguably the albums' three standout tracks - and considering Taubenfeld's successful
co-work with Lavigne on debut album Let Go back in 2001, it really comes as little
surprise to see his name attached to the albums best moments. If anything, it serves to
show just how inexperienced Avril remains as a sole lyricist, with the bratty naivety of
title-track The Best Damn Thing paling in comparison to Taubenfeld's assistance on Hot et
That said though, it's the same youthful innocence that makes The Best Damn Thing such a
fun, engaging record. The excellent Runaway crashes along on a wave of crunchy guitars
and Travis Barker-donated drums, whilst the catchy-as-hell Contagious sees Avril
professing her qualities to a prospective partner, and whilst there are times when the
songs show a worrying lack of substance, it's largely due to The Best Damn Thing being a
no-frills romp of a record, not designed to be deep or particularly meaningful.
Lavigne's legion of fans will doubtless treat The Best Damn Thing like an early Christmas
present, and so they should. For all its lyrical misgivings (largely when Avril tries to
go it alone), TBTD is an exuberantly fun album, one that packs more than a fair punch and
puts a delightfully perky twist on the direction of former releases Let Go and Under My
Though it's hard to see The Best Damn Thing furthering Lavigne's aims of ultimately
becoming a serious singer-songwriter, for now it's simply a case - as her currently dyed
hair suggests - of blondes having just that bit more fun.