Avril Lavigne, Avril Lavigne (Epic)
Avril Lavigne’s twice-married, pushing 30—and speaking for sloppy teens like the Lorax who grabbed the axe. We’re supposed to hope for more from a star releasing her fifth album (which is streaming now on iTunes, a week ahead of its release), never mind one doing it at a time when even music’s biggest brats get folks clucking about high-toned topics like appropriation and blasphemy.
Avril, who turned 29 last month, can’t compete with Miley and Kanye when it comes to making a spectacle of pop spectacle. But the irresistibly zippy, perceptive and, on two (possibly three) occasions, deeply weird Avril Lavigne reminds us that maturity sometimes means doubling down on what’s expected of you—even when that involves rapping about the “motherf—ing cops” on a fleet little song called “Bitchin’ Summer.”