Avril Lavigne’s comeback album “Head Above Water” takes a sentimental approach and establishes a mature sound that the common listener was not have expected following her hiatus.
Being the first release since her self-titled album from 2013, Lavigne has been through a lot of health issues and heartbreak since then. She has overcome her battle with Lyme Disease, a disease that had affected her physical health for years.
She came out about her experience through a letter directed to her fans posted on her social media.
This inspired her debut single and the album’s title track “Head Above Water.” She explains her struggles and conflicts with survival during this era of her life through her lyrics, “God, keep my head above water / Don't let me drown, it gets harder / I'll meet you there at the altar / As I fall down to my knees / Don't let me drown.”
The intimacy of this song is astounding as Lavigne is lending us an ear into her prayers, because life itself is something most of us take for granted.
Many tracks on this work followed the structure and rawness that “Head Above Water” evoked. Another single, “Tell Me It’s Over,” talks of forbidden love and heartbreak when reality is expected, seen through descriptive lyrics, “I keep on leaving the light on / Hoping to find something else / I've played the fool for the last time / I just can't do this myself.”
The last track, “It Was In Me” holds a similar tone, yet this song recognizes self-love.
This reflects upon a relatable journey Lavigne narrates as she tried finding love through people and materialistically, yet she realizes that the most truthful way she can find love is finding love in herself.
Most of the album seemed raw and emotional, and displayed the vocal range that Avril Lavigne did not usually present through her old sound. However, there were a couple tracks on “Head Above Water” that seemed out of place.
One example is “Dumb Blonde” featuring Nicki Minaj (the only featured artist on the entirety of the work). This song was reminiscent of Lavigne’s old sound, very mid-2000s esque.
This would have been a perfect fit on Lavigne’s past works like “The Best Damn Thing” or even “Let Go,” both albums by Lavigne being over a decade old. The sound that “Dumb Blonde” presents does not portray the cohesion that most of the new album unveils, lyrically or instrumentally.
Overall, it is clear that Avril Lavigne made a smart move to take a six year pause in order to take time for herself and to create, as “Head Above Water” is an exceptional comeback.