It's been six years since Avril Lavigne's last album and in that time she's overcome a battle with Lyme disease, the breakdown of her marriage with Nickelback's Chad Kroeger and even rumours of her untimely death.

She returned to the scene with her lead single Head Above Water, which drew an unexpected amount of attention when, on release, it soared to the top of the Christian music charts.

On it, Lavigne's voice still holds just as much power as ever, albeit with more control - whether that's a product of Lyme disease or simply growing up, it's unclear, but it suits her.

The problem is that her voice is the only thing that's benefited from being pulled back. Everything else - melodies, lyrics, messages - fail to hit anywhere near as hard as the old Avril would've done and everything just feels like a pop star going through the formulaic motions.


Dumb Blonde is the only song that comes close to sounding anything like the sassy, fun and sharp-tongued Avril we used to know, but it also sounds exactly what you'd expect someone desperately trying to recreate that era of Avril to sound like.

"I ain't no dumb blonde / I ain't no stupid Barbie doll / I got my game on / just watch me prove you wrong," she sings, entirely unconvincingly. Then it heads into a totally out of place Nicki Minaj feature and straight back into faux-emotional balladry.

Songs like It Was In Me, Tell Me It's Over and I Fell In Love With the Devil sound like they're straight off the soundtrack to Lavigne's (probably forthcoming) answer to Britney Spears' Crossroads.

On Warrior, she makes the half-hearted declaration that "I won't give up, I will survive, I'm a warrior / And I'm stronger, that's why I'm alive."

But for all she's been through and for as long as she's been away, and after building the legacy she did with Let Go some 17 years ago, you'd have hoped the warrior would have more fight.

Avril Lavigne, Head Above Water

Artist: Avril Lavigne
Album: Head Above Water
Label: BMG
Verdict: A strong vocal comeback but ultimately lacking punch