THE BEST DAMN THING

-- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 2:41 PM ET


Avril Lavigne
The Best Damn Thing
(Arista/Sony BMG)

Avril Lavigne has guts, we'll give her that.

Let's face it: When you call your CD The Best Damn Thing, you're asking for it. And when you follow that with what she's said -- that the songs are meant to be disposable; that she was drinking in the studio; that she refused to let her label have any input -- it has all the makings of a self-indulgent bomb.

But give Lavigne this; she's got smarts and talent too. And she's earned that cockiness. After selling 24 million CDs, the 22-year-old superstar knows what she wants and isn't afraid to go for it. Which is just what she does on her third CD.

This dozen-track disc is Lavigne's loudest, fastest and punkiest album, with harder-hitting beats, looser arrangements and more explicit lyrics. But the 40-minute set also expands her sound with cheerleader beats and girl-group vocals. It may not be what her label and old fans want to hear. But it's far from the worst damn thing she could have done.

Our track-by-track analysis:

1. Girlfriend 3:37

Lavigne bursts out of the gate with this catchy single that mashes the beat of Toni Basil1s Mickey to the chunky power chords of The Donnas -- and tops it with snotty vocals about stealing another girl's man.

QUOTABLE LYRIC: "Hell yeah / I'm the motherf**ing princess!"

VERDICT: Download it.

2. I Can Do Better 3:17

The disc shifts into second gear on this thumping, punky sprinter -- think The Pretenders' Precious but with an arena-sized chorus. Bonus points for the playful backup vocals.

LYRIC: "I will drink as much limoncello as I can."

VERDICT: Download it.

3. Runaway 3:48

With its hip-poppy bounce and strummy acoustic guitars, this pop-rocker about a bad day is more like the Avril of old.

LYRIC: "You know how it is, life can be a bitch."

VERDICT: Stream it.

4. The Best Damn Thing 3:10

Another cheerleader beat, another killer chorus and another brash vocal about how Avril hates having to open her own door. Call it Girlfriend Pt. 2.

LYRIC: "I hate it when a guy doesn't understand / Why a certain time of month I don't wanna hold his hand."

VERDICT: Download it.

5. When You're Gone 4:00

Avril gets her ballad on in a standard piano-and-strings weeper with bombastic chorus. Expect to hear it in a movie as the hero walks in the rain after being dumped.

LYRIC: "I always needed time on my own."

VERDICT: Skip it.

6. Everything Back But You 3:03

Lavigne dries her tears and lashes out on this chiming, double-time punk-pop basher about a two-timing guy.

LYRIC: "You're out there somewhere with a psycho bitch / I hate you / Why are guys so lame?"

VERDICT: Download it.

7. Hot 3:23

This chuggy pop-rocker with a punchy chorus is more old-style Avril -- except for the steamy Alanis-style lyrics.

LYRIC: "You make me so hot / I will let you do anything again and again."

VERDICT: Stream it.

8. Innocence 3:53

Piano ballad No. 2. Avril gets all goopy about the purity of love. Destined to be played at every summer wedding.

LYRIC: "It's so beautiful it makes you wanna cry."

VERDICT: Skip it.

9. I Don't Have to Try 3:17

The honeymoon's over. A robo-funk beat winds up into a driving punk grind as a squealing, screaming Avril puts her man in his place. Sorry Deryck.

LYRIC: "I wear the pants!"

VERDICT: Download it.

10. One of Those Girls 2:58

More cheerleader girl-group vocals highlight this choppy, surging rocker about mercenary women.

LYRIC: "I see that look in your eyes / It tells a million lies."

VERDICT: Stream it.

11. Contagious 2:10

The CD begins to wind down with this pumping pop-rock trifle.

LYRIC: "They all say you're no good for me / but I'm too close to turn around."

VERDICT: Skip it.

12. Keep Holding On 3:59

The last waltz. A strummed guitar, lush strings and a soaring vocal about love and loyalty add up to a sweeping Alanis-like ballad.

LYRIC: "So far away / I wish you were here / Before it's too late / This could all disappear."

VERDICT: Skip it.


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