There are some pop stars who, through no fault of their own, seem frozen at a specific age and moment in time.
Avril Lavigne is one of them - although she's worked through angsty post-grunge (My Happy Ending), bratty pop-rock (Girlfriend) and Christian power-balladry (Head Above Water) she's still most fondly remembered for her 2003 debut album Let Go, a highly-influential collection of pop-punk records (Complicated, Sk8er Boi) that has inspired everyone from Yungblud to Olivia Rodrigo.
So after a few years in the wilderness, it seems right that Avril would return with a shiny new record deal and a brand-new song that welcomes her back with open arms into the genre that birthed her.
"Don't look so innocent, this was no accident," she sings in the opening to Bite Me - a confident return to form for pop punk's reigning motherf**king princess. And she's right, her return to this genre is no accident. It's highly calculated to bounce off current trends. But it never feels insincere, instead, it feels like a celebration. Like a welcome home.
Listen to the song below:
Co-written by Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker, Lil Nas X collaborator Omar Fedi and producer John Feldmann (Ashlee Simpson, Hilary Duff), it's a lovely surprise to hear just how fresh Avril sounds. Her voice is crisp and clear on the song's chorus; like she hasn't aged a day since she first dropped Complicated.
"You should have known better better to f*ck with someone like me," Avril sings, "forever and ever you're gonna wish I was your wifey."
Those looking for the introspection of 2019's highly-personal Head Above Water should look away now, however. Bite Me - as the title suggests - is about letting go, having fun and living for the moment. And if you don't like it? You know what to do...
For many of us, Avril Lavigne may always be frozen as the 17-year-old skateboarding rock star tearing up a shopping mall, but she continues to use this to her advantage. Bite Me proves that you can continue to mine something new from old sounds...and still have fun along the way.
Bite Me is out now.