Although these songs were reportedly written throughout Avril Lavigne's young life, it does seem that her divorce from husband Deryck Whibley weighs heavily on the music here. Overall, the album is very downbeat and subdued. In the past, much of what has made Avril Lavigne a compelling music figure is the fire, energy, and, yes, occasional brattiness in her songs. On Goodbye Lullaby she is reflective and, often, somewhat dull. While this album uses topnotch production talent in Butch Walker, Max Martin, and Deryck Whibley himself, it is the two songs produced by Avril Lavigne herself that stand out most.
Emotional Pain In Ordinary Arrangements
After you've made it several songs into Goodbye Lullaby the album starts to sound like, "How many ways can you say, 'I miss you, I wish you liked yourself better, and I wish you could tear through my walls.'" That could be made compelling with truly interesting arrangements and musical settings but songs like "Wish You Were Here," "Stop Standing There," and "Everybody Hurts" start to sound a lot alike. Perhaps these songs would work on the radio in individual doses, but taken together they lose my attention. Avril Lavigne frequently uses a voice with a girlishness to it that sounds on occasion strangely immature for the subject matter of the songs. Perhaps it is the voice of an adult that is needed to allow us as listeners to genuinely feel the pain of an adult.
Avril Alone Creates Moments That Shine Through
The true standout moments on Goodbye Lullaby come on the songs that Avril Lavigne wrote and produced on her own. "4 Real" contains a fire and energy that is infectious. Lyrically, it is a song that fits with past classics like "Complicated" and "My Happy Ending" with her concern about authenticity in a lover. She insists that her partner be "4 real," because everything feels right. The bridge of the song is gorgeous when we feel the deep satisfaction of being held safe in the arms of a loved one.
If the rest of the album were of higher quality, the song "Goodbye" would be the emotional climax and centerpiece of this collection of songs. As it turns out, the song rises above the ordinariness of the rest of the tracks to hopefully point toward future efforts. Avril Lavigne moves away from a rock arrangement to gorgeous strings surrounding her unadorned voice. There is clear sadness in saying goodbye to a lover, but it is tempered by personal strength that comes through in muscular vocal moments.
Top Tracks On Goodbye Lullaby
- "What the Hell"
- "I Love You"
- "4 Real"
Waiting For the Next Avril Lavigne Chapter
Goodbye Lullaby leaves us waiting for the next chapter in Avril Lavigne's recording career. Perhaps with this album she has purged the weight of sadness and regret to prepare herself for the next steps forward. It sounds like we would all benefit if she has the courage to move forward in writing and producing songs on her own. The two tracks here indicate that she can be a very solid, compelling pop-rock artist when in complete control of the artistic vision. Mediocre Avril Lavigne remains more compelling than many artists, but Goodbye Lullaby feels a bit like a wasted moment in time.