Sunday, July 28, 2019

Album Review: Goodbye Lullaby by Avril Lavigne

Over the next year or so, I plan to review every CD in my collection. First up on the list is Avril Lavigne's 2011 release Goodbye Lullaby, which I purchased on one of many trips to the local shopping mall with my high school girlfriend. I had been listening to Avril's music for years at that point, and thought it was worth buying a CD to hold on to and maybe listen to at some point in the future. Today, listening to Goodbye Lullaby brings back two sets of memories- watching Avril Lavigne music videos in middle school and wishing I could be a sexy guitar playing punk girl too, and sitting alone in my high school cafeteria listening to this album on my phone. For me high school was a time before music streaming, so I only had access to the music on my phone's SD card. I was mostly over Avril Lavigne in high school, but this CD became a part of my lunchtime soundtrack simply by virtue of me owning the CD.

The songs themselves are okay. There are a few hits, like "What The Hell", "Smile", and "Wish You Were Here", but most of the album is comprised of forgettable but catchy pop rock love songs that don't hit nearly as hard as the singles. Perhaps, though, my opinion here is clouded by nostalgia. When I first listened to Avril's music, I was watching music videos on YouTube. I only heard the singles, so I'm not exactly surprised that the songs I love now are mostly the same ones I loved before I even listened to the entire album. Speaking of songs that stuck with me, "Smile" is the only Avril Lavigne song that I actually learned on guitar, years later. I still play it from time to time, and remember how edgy it made me feel when I was younger.

The way we listen to music has changed a lot since I was in high school. I have hundreds of Spotify playlists now, which I use to organize the handful of songs I listen to, hand picked from the seemingly endless Spotify catalog. I'm not going to say that having access to practically unlimited music has caused music to lose its value, but it certainly feels like that sometimes. I certainly don't feel as emotionally connected to music when I listen on Spotify as I did when I pulled Goodbye Lullaby out of my CD organizer, took it out of its nearly pristine jewel case, and set the disc in the tray of my computer's optical drive- a piece of hardware, I should note, that is quickly going out of style. I set the CD case under my monitor while I listened to the music, so I could just look at it. I know I can't pay this much attention to all the music I listen to, but it feels good to pay this much attention sometimes.

I've written before how I feel about physical CDs in general (spoiler alert: I love them). This CD in particular has done its job. Listening to it makes me feel connected to the person I used to be, just like I hoped when I bought it. I feel like I can relate to my past self. I sincerely wish everybody could have this experience from time to time.

Goodbye Lullaby is probably one of my favorite albums of all time, but I can't really recommend it unless you, like me, have a deep personal connection to the music. What can I say? Nostalgia is a hell of a drug. To someone who has never heard Goodbye Lullaby before, it probably would sound pretty lame. But that's okay. One of my core principles is that I try to love things unironically as much as possible, and reject the idea of guilty pleasures. If you like it, you should be able to like it without having to justify it to yourself, no matter how lame it is.

I give Goodbye Lullaby four out of five stars, and my favorite track is "What The Hell".

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