Three years after releasing her hit sophomore studio album Under My Skin, Avril Lavigne decided to go from emotional, alt-rock to bubblegum pop punk for 2007’s The Best Damn Thing. But soon thereafter, she began to slowly move away from her combat boot-wearing, army jacket-sporting persona, reintroducing herself as a pop star in Goodbye Lullaby with hit single “What The Hell.”
There was barely a trace of “rock chick” Lavigne in following albums; she changed so much that her fans invented a conspiracy theory that she’d died and been replaced by an actress named Melissa. How could the person who helped craft something like “Complicated” at 17 end up making something as embarrassing as “Hello Kitty”?
But a lot has changed. Pop punk has made a major comeback—and Lavigne wants in on the nostalgia trip. The singer returns to form with single “Bite Me,” her first under Travis Barker’s label DTA Records. With the new song, the message is clear: “Melissa” is dead; long live Avril Lavigne.
“Bite Me” is the closest to the Lavigne her early fans fell in love with at the beginning of her career. Not only is it a big return to pop punk, but it also sounds delightfully nostalgic. It’s a song that would’ve fit perfectly within the Myspace era, perhaps even better than her 2007 single “Girlfriend” was engineered to fit within the effervescent pop punk hits of the time.
One big issue with Lavigne’s pop punk songs is that they typically weren’t as lyrically strong as the ones from her first two records, and thus didn’t quite stick with fans who identified with the angst expressed in Let Go and Under My Skin.
But here, rather than trying to convince the guy she’s singing about that he needs to pick her (as she did on “Girlfriend”), she’s giving them a kiss-off: “I gave you one chance, you don’t get it twice / Hey you, and we’ll be together never, so baby, you can bite me.”
With artists and bands like Willow Smith (whom Lavigne recently released a song with), Meet Me @ The Altar, Pinkshift, Machine Gun Kelly, Lil Huddy, and countless others who’ve made pop punk feel like it’s 2005 all over again, Lavigne’s comeback of sorts—after not releasing music for two years—couldn’t have come at a better time.
There’s no pressure from the label to stay in the pop lane; if anything, now that she’s working with Barker, there’s encouragement to fully embrace her rough-around-the-edges roots. Lavigne hasn’t announced a new album yet, but if this is what we can expect from whatever’s next, this might be the most exciting moment in Lavigne’s career since she first broke big.
By Tatiana Tenreyro