It’s been a decade since a then 17-year-old Avril Lavigne released her debut album Let Go (June 4, 2002).
Let Go was certified six times platinum in the US and has sold over 16 million copies worldwide. The album really stands up ten years after its release, and it’s rightly her highest selling album to date.
Her three albums after Let Go have been disappointing. For the most part, this later music is dumbed down, lyrically simplified, and paradoxically less mature than the songs on the first album, which had a richness and variety of expression. Here’s a look at the tracks that comprised Let Go, before fashion and perfume lines distracted from the music.
Of course, “Complicated” and, to a lesser degree, “Sk8er Boi” were the standout songs. At its core, “Complicated” is an attack on hypocrisy and dishonesty in how one presents oneself to the world. “Sk8er Boi” is a fun yet authentic story-song about music, with a surprise twist at the end when we learn how the narrator fits into the story.
The slower, more dramatic songs “I’m With You,” “Tomorrow,” and “Too Much To Ask” provide a nice balance to the energy of a song like “Sk8er Boi.”
“Anything But Ordinary” and the semi-autobiographical “My World” are about being exceptional, seeking something more for yourself, and wanting to escape small town ennui. “Anything But Ordinary” also works as a personal artistic statement – In 2002 and 2003, Avril Lavigne was different; there was no one else like her on the scene.
Including “Nobody’s Fool” was slightly risky – it doesn’t sound like any other song on the album. The half-speaking half-singing during the verses works brilliantly, though. It’s like a teen girl Linkin Park song.
“Things I’ll Never Say” is strong enough to have been a single. It’s definitely for a young audience — it’s a nice, very catchy middle school anthem.
The least effective songs were the angrier, mid-teen angst tracks “Losing Grip” and “Unwanted,” the latter of which also hints thematically at the struggle of staying true to oneself in the face of record label image issues.
Unfortunately, the second album headed in this gothic, angsty direction, while the third and fourth albums alternate between upbeat yet ultimately insubstantial songs like “Girlfriend” and ballads that are boring and sound too similar to one another (“When You’re Gone,” “Keep Holding On,” “Innocence”).