Rolling Stone - p.843.5 stars out of 5
- "What hasn't changed is her meticulous deliver....No one conjures up bored teenage blankness like Avril Lavigne."
Q - p.1034 stars out of 5
- "UNDER MY SKIN doesn't disappoint..."
Personnel: Avril Lavigne (vocals); Raine Maida (guitar, keyboards); Ben Moody, Phil X. (guitar); Butch Walker (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano, keyboards, bass guitar, percussion, programming, background vocals); Sam Fisher, Mark Robertson , Samuel Formicola (violin); Shanti Randall (viola); Victor Lawrence (cello); Static, Jon O'Brien (keyboards, programming); Kenny Aronoff (drums, percussion); Bill Lefler, Kenny Cresswell (drums); Brian E. Garcia (percussion); Jason Lader (programming); Dan Chass (drum programming); Michael Ward (guitar); Evan Taubenfeld (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, drums, background vocals); Patrick Warren (strings, chamberlin, keyboards); Chantal Kreviazuk (piano, keyboards); Josh Freese, Brooks Wackerman (drums).
Audio Mixers: Randy Staub ; Tom Lord-Alge.
Editors: Dan Certa; Dan Certina.
Photographer: James Minchin.
Part of Avril Lavigne's appeal -- a large part of it, actually -- is that she's a brat, acting younger than her 17 years on her 2002 debut, Let Go, and never seeming like she much cared about the past (she notoriously mispronounced David Bowie's name when reading Grammy nominations), or anything else for that matter. She lived for the moment; she partied with sk8er bois; she didn't want anything complicated. Thanks to production gurus the Matrix, Avril's proudly adolescent anthems were delivered in a shiny package built on steel-girded hooks -- a sound so catchy it came to define the mainstream not long after Let Go hit the radio. The Matrix became ubiquitous on the strength of their work with Lavigne, who herself became a big star, earning constant play on radio and MTV, kick starting a fashion trend of ties-n-tank tops for girls, and inexplicably providing a touchstone for indie rock queen Liz Phair's mainstream makeover. Fame, however, didn't pull the two camps together; it pushed them their separate ways, as the Matrix went on to record their own album and Avril decided to turn serious, working with a variety of co-writers and producers, including fellow Canadian singer/songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk, for her second album, 2004's Under My Skin. Lavigne hasn't only shed her trademark ties for thrift-shop skirts, she's essentially ditched the sound of Let Go, too, bringing herself closer to the mature aspirations of fellow singer/songwriter Michelle Branch. Since Avril is still a teenager, she's livelier than Branch. There may be an abundance of minor keys and midtempo cuts, but Under My Skin is fueled by teen angst; sometimes, it seems as if she's the first to discover the joys of love and the pain of heartache. In a sense, she comes across as Alanis Morissette's kid sister, especially now that the Matrix are gone and the hooks have been pushed to the background for much of the record; it's the teen spin on Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, where she's self-consciously trying to grow as an artist. Naturally, this means that Under My Skin isn't as infectious as Let Go since there's nothing as giddy as "Sk8er Boi," even if much of it is written from a similarly adolescent vantage point. Lavigne's collaborators, Kreviazuk and Evan Taubenfeld chief among them, have helped streamline her writing via their meticulous arrangements, and her performances are assured, so Avril sounds as if she's maturing a bit. In fact, that blend of confidence and confusion gives Under My Skin its pulse; no matter how polished the surface, there's no hiding Avril's attitude and ambition. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine