I never really liked Avril when she first toddled onto our screens and radios with Complicated. Zara was in one ear with how she like the music, Smithers was in the other with how he liked her panda-faced looks.
Seems like they were right after all.
Under My Skin sounds like someone growing into an established sound. Previous singles (bar Losing Grip, which sounds like it's off this new album) were slightly contrived, exploiting Avril's sk8r fashions. This album is probably just as contrived, but that's fine - because it doesn't sound like it. The album opener, Take Me Away, showcases the incredible voice that she can project; more importantly it sets the bar for the guitar pop which weaves through this album. Pitch perfect guitar and vocals mix in the chorus to create a stabbing progression to the second track, Together. This one's a little more generic, though the arpeggiated chords through the verses create a good lulling counterpoint to the aggressive chorus.
Singles Don't Tell Me and My Happy Ending are both pretty great - they sound like singles, fairly safe but entertaining. If you don't like their style then there's nothing on the album that will convince you of the talent on offer here. How Does It Feel is a tick-tock build up through to a majestic climax, unstructured, pierce with fantastic strings... Nobody's Home is a rolling and pleasant track, probably another single. My version of the album has an acoustic version that's a far cry away - much better.
It's a hook filled treat, this one.