You can say this much for Avril Lavigne's new album, Under My Skin: It is not overproduced. It's refreshingly rare to hear a pop album that doesn't feel the need to get too cute. The only problem is that Avril's overlyconcerned with being not cute. Enough with the affectation, already; nobody calls her the anti-Britney anymore (Britney herself proudly took that title). The songs have titles like "Take Me Away" (the Linkin Park-inspired lead-off), "Fall to Pieces (catchy in a Hootie & the Blowfish way) and "Freak Out" (not-catchy in a Hootie & the Blowfish way). Even the songs with less-mopey titles like "Together" still focus on the horrible reality of being a nineteen-year-old millionaire icon ("When I turn the lights out/When I close my eyes/ Reality overcomes me/I'm living a lie"). The album's centerpiece is its first single, "Don't Tell Me," the ultimate ode to cock-blocking ("Don't think that your charm/ And the fact that your arm is now around my neck/Will get you in my pants/I'll have to kick your ass and make you never forget"). This is all fine and good, but a male-consumer reality is that guys don't really like being told that they're not going to get any. We know we're not, but at least with "Sk8er Boi" we could dream. Immediately bumped off Billboard's top spot by Usher, it will be very surprising if Under My Skin does anywhere near the business of Let Go, her über-platinum debut. Note to Avril: Don't hate!
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