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Avril Lavigne
The Best Damn Thing
RCA Records
www.avrillavigne.com


With her latest release, The Best Damn Thing, singer and wannabe punk rocker goddess to the shopping mall masses Avril Lavigne has succeeded in recording one of my favorite guilty pleasure albums of the year.

The Best Damn Thing is a good semi-pop punk record that has only a few missteps within its twelve songs. The first single "Girlfriend" is a monotonous, obnoxious clichéd jab at teenybopper successes like Britney "Toxic" Spears and Nickelodeon Network heroes JoJo and The Cheetah Girls. Though "Girlfriend" is funny in a tragically bad song kind of way to the point that it slightly diminishes the rest of the album, Ms. Lavigne's latest is, for the most part, an enjoyable undertaking.

Being married to Sum 41 front man and fellow Canadian Deryck Whibley seems to have rubbed off on Avril; the guitars on "Best" are a showcase, they blast through the stereo speakers like the work of Tom DeLonge as heard on early Blink 182 records, back in the good old days before he formed his "I wish I was in U2" band, Angels And Airwaves. The songs "I Can Do Better," "Everything Back But You," and especially "I Don't Have To Try" with its lines, "I'm the one, I'm the one who knows how to dance/ I'm the one who's got the prance/ I'm the one who wears the pants/ I wear the pants" play like a dumbed down version of "I am woman/ here me roar" for the Hot Topic, lip glossed demographic. None of the lyrics on this record are genius, neither Avril or anyone in her army of writing partners will ever be accused of being the second coming of John Lennon.

What does make Avril stand out however, is the fact that unlike some of the other so-called empowered young women on the scene today, she can get her point across and sing without taking her clothes off. When she gives up on the cheese approach and delivers heartfelt songs like "Hot" and "When Your Gone," both most likely directed toward her hubby, you can hear the honesty and love in her voice. Many cooks were in this albums kitchen (four different producers and several songwriters are listed in the liner notes) but Lavigne had at least some participation in the writing of all the songs on The Best Damn Thing and that's more than a lot of the performers out there today can say for themselves.

As a fan of punk rock, I only listen to The Best Damn Thing when no one is around for fear that my rock card will be revoked, never to be seen again. But when I'm all alone, when no one can hear, I put on the cd and feel relieved that a girl that is basically part of my daughter's generation actually has something to say.

Even if it did take so many people to help her say it.

-Danny R. Phillips

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