Under My Skin
Back in my freshman year of college, I was herded into a largely useless intro to sociology class. Among the smattering of textbooks we had to read was an expanded case study, which proved, in effect, that rural Ireland has one of the world’s highest schizophrenic populations. If I remember correctly, there was even a chapter devoted to how the more mentally stable country denizens immigrated to North America, specifically Canada. Ontario native Avril Lavigne’s Under My Skin shows that at least some of the transplants brought a handful of recessive genes with them to pass along to their children.
I kid… but not really. The album’s polarized lyric themes of “I don’t need you, boy” sass and “why doesn’t he like me” lament come to a head at the crossroads of “Don’t Tell Me” and “He Wasn’t,” respectively. The former declares, “Don’t think that your charm/and the fact that your arm is around my neck/will get you in my pants,” while the latter claims, “he wouldn’t even open up the door/he never made me feel like I was special/he really isn’t what I’m looking for.” A little scatterbrained, no? Honestly though, who looks at teen pop for thematic consistency?
Sloughing off pretension and taking this album as simple modern rock, it’s not that bad. It’s obvious Avril’s still listening to Green Day and their mall-punk derivatives, but oddly enough, vocally she’s turned from a mini-Alanis to the Irish twang of The Cranberries’ front woman Delores O’Riordan.
Avril still stays out of the music writing, and despite ditching The Matrix as producers this album retains Let Go’s formula. “He Wasn’t” is the new “Sk8r Boi”; “How Does it Feel” the wannabe “I’m With You”; “My Happy Ending” the follow up to “Complicated.” Avril’s lyrics occasionally get weighed down in cliché and lack of creativity, but goddamn if she doesn’t write an impossibly perfect pop hook for every song’s chorus. Bi-polar or not, it’s cause enough to raise Avril in my mind past a 21st century Debbie Gibson and into solo Go-Gos territory. Nice.