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“I’m getting flashbacks,” Avril Lavigne told the crowd of 250 at Los Angeles’ famed Sunset Strip club the Viper Room. “I remember playing this stage when I was 17 and wearing a necktie.”
Lavigne no longer wears neckties, but the now 28-year-old singer still embraces the aesthetics of her youth. During her six-song set Thursday night, a teaser for an as-yet-untitled new album confirmed to be released some point this year, the singer bounced around the small stage alongside her band, the buoyantly carefree sensibility of her formative single “Sk8tr Boi” mirroring that of her latest track, the never-before-heard “17.”
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The latter song, which Lavigne debuted last night and which is already circling the Internet in grainy YouTube footage, is a continuation of the singer’s 2002 debut Let Go, a boisterous mall pop number that idealizes high school. On the song Lavigne yelps, “We were living the dream/Because we were 17,” and it’s no wonder: the majority of Lavigne’s fans remain young and eager for her hook-laden choruses. The lucky few who won their way into the Viper Room, thanks to a Twitter contest followed by an hours-long line outside, appeared to be barely above the legal drinking age, but were equally enthused by her new single “Here’s To Never Growing Up” as they were by her formative material.
Lavigne, who arrived at the event in a black SUV with fiancé and Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger (he produced much of her upcoming fifth album), seems hell-bent on retaining the brand she’s fostered since Let Go, even as her fashion choices have become less mall punk and more Kardashian. The show consisted entirely of hits — from “Sk8tr Boi” to “Girlfriend” to “What The Hell” — revealing just how many catchy pop singles Lavigne has consistently delivered over the years, even as her early devotees outgrew her.
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A new album from the singer follows 2011’s Goodbye Lullaby, an effort that never quite lived up to the sales success of her prior releases (it debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200, while 2007’s The Best Damn Thing and 2004’s Under My Skin both landed the top spot). New material from Lavigne, especially “17,” seems like an opportunity for her to reclaim her title as queen of mall pop. Sure, her songs are rooted in rock (hence the live backing band), but if “Sk8tr Boi” tells us anything it’s that Lavigne knows her way around an irresistible radio-ready hook.
At this point, the album doesn’t have a release date, a title or really any viable information surrounding it, but it’s coming — and likely soon if Epic, Lavigne’s new label (run by L.A. Reid, who discovered her and released her debut album), is sending her to the Viper for promo shows. “17” may be an amuse-bouche of sorts, with more tasty tunes to come — hopefully accompanied by some back-story that goes beyond this preamble: “Listen to it carefully,” the singer told the crowd. “I wrote this song about — duh — being 17.”
“Here’s To Never Growing Up” is out now. Lavigne will release a music video for the track on May 9.
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