"Love Sux" proves Avril Lavigne is the queen of pop-punk

by Molly Larson

"Love Sux" proves Avril Lavigne is the queen of pop-punk

Lovingly referred to as the princess of pop-punk, Avril Lavigne’s music defined the rock-out, teenage angst jams of a generation. In 2002, her first record, Let Go, gave us anthems like “Sk8er Boi,” “Girlfriend,” and “Complicated,” influenced by other giants of the genre like Green Day and Blink-182. Now, the princess reclaims her throne with her high-energy seventh studio album, Love Sux.

The album is nostalgia — packaged in loud, upbeat joy and dancing, rather than subdued golden hues. This sense of joy permeates through every drumbeat, lyric, and track title. From the first downbeat, Love Sux is exactly what classic Lavigne fans would want it to be. The opening track on the album, “Cannonball,” wastes no time and comes in fast and hard. With heavy guitar and distorted vocals, the song’s energy leaves the listener with no doubt that Avril Lavigne is back and better than ever. Despite its roots in the past, the album feels incredibly fresh. Often, artists return to their original schtick after other attempts fall flat, which can feel like disingenuous pandering. But Lavigne’s new album is a celebration of her growth and journey, not a denouncement of it. After getting discovered at 15, she endured the stresses of pop stardom and being a young woman in the industry without ever being overtaken by them. Now, at 37, this album marks a happy chapter in her life and reflects the comfort and joy she feels in this moment. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Lavigne described her vision for the project: “My message is know who you are, and trust who you are. A lot of these songs are about having the strength to walk away if someone doesn’t see that. I wanted to make sure I wrote music that people could relate to. It’s about valuing yourself and knowing you’re enough. It’s really a love letter to women.”

Love Sux showcases less variety than Lavigne’s other projects. Although she is an adept writer of power ballads, the album is composed of 34 minutes of strictly upbeat pop-punk made the old-fashioned way. “We used live guitars and live drums and didn’t hold back, and just got to do exactly what I wanted and what I feel like I’ve probably wanted to do for a long time,” said Lavigne in the Entertainment Weekly interview. The drums are the driving force of the record, pushing the songs forward and leaving no space for the listener’s attention to wane, in the very best way. Their sound is unmistakably true to the genre; not surprising, as they’re being played by Travis Barker of Blink-182 and Mod Sun. The album also features Machine Gun Kelly (“Bois Lie”), blackbear (“Love It When You Hate Me”), and Blink-182 co-lead vocalist Mark Hoppus (“All I Wanted”).

The album has no skips, though some tracks hit harder than others. A standout of the album is “Bite Me.” This track hits a sweet spot, with catchy hooks and vocal variations that are distinctly Avril Lavigne.

In a cultural moment where so many new pieces of media feel like cheap pandering and repackaging of old classics, it is incredibly refreshing to have a work of nostalgia that feels genuine and fresh. Avril Lavigne proves – once and for all – that her crown as pop-punk princess was well-earned. And 20 years after “Sk8er Boi,” Love Sux proves that it may be time to declare her the queen of pop-punk, a throne she certainly is not giving up anytime soon. Long live the queen.