In 2002, Avril Lavigne’s skate-punk aesthetic and emo-but-energized angst quickly made her the queen of the aughts pop-punk revival scene. Since her third album, 2007’s The Best Damn Thing, she’s ebbed and flowed, dipping her toes in bubblegum pop and more self-serious pop rock. Her seventh album, Love Sux, brings her back to her roots, bridging the gap between her early emo vibe with the bubblegum confidence that brought her away from it.
Lavigne packs the album, which is just under 40 minutes, with ferocious energy. She partnered with ska-heavyweight-turned-pop-punk-whisperer John Feldmann (5SOS, Blink-182) and boyfriend Mod Sun, who recently made the Machine Gun Kelly-esque pivot from hip-hop to rock. Travis Barker, who signed Lavigne to his imprint DTA, assists along the way. The final product is crisp and fun, launching with the explosive “Cannonball,” a song that feels like it could’ve easily snuck out of the demos from her 2002 debut, Let Go.
Conceptually, Love Sux is about exactly what the title promises: all the ways “bois” suck and lie and break hearts. She injects “Girlfriend” level brattiness into lead single “Bite Me”: “You should’ve known better, better/To fuck with someone like me/(Hey you) Forever and ever you’re gonna wish I was your wifey.” On title track, she pops off some taunting na-na-na‘s before stating “When I think of you, I just wanna throw up.”
Machine Gun Kelly and Blackbear make enthusiastic duet partners on the songs they’re featured on, but it’s Blink’s Mark Hoppus who channels “Dammit”-era Blink-182 for “All I Wanted,” a cut that feels timeless with these two sparring in the middle of their lovers’ quarrel. Across the board, Lavigne sounds like she’s having good, real fun for the first time in ages. If the album is following a major pop-punk trend in pop music, it also serves as a reminder that Lavigne helped shape so much of that sound in the first place.