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Albums: November 8, 2013

Reviews of the new records by Avril Lavigne and M.I.A.

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Avril Lavigne, Avril Lavigne
Avril is twice married, pushing 30 — and speaking for teens like the Lorax who grabbed the ax. She wrote much of her zippy fifth album with her new hubby, Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger, but when she shouts about living “like rock stars,” it’s from the sloshed perspective of hellion high schoolers. And while the near-perfect “17” benefits from a spritz of the wistful, Avril’s most adroit at sorting out sexual confusion: “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” and “Give You What You Like” zero in, respectively, on newfound desires and how they come to be compromised. That’s grown-woman wisdom. B+

M.I.A., Matangi
M.I.A. never overthrew the prevailing pop order, but she remains one of music’s great eccentrics, a charismatic leader preaching a flippant sort of militancy. With her usual free-trade beats sounding more velvety than spiky, Maya Arulpragasam’s fourth album finally makes peace with this. She opens with an “om,” talks karma, and shamelessly flirts: “Do you want to ride like a Crusader?/Yeah, I’m not a Christian girl.” Giddyap — the lady insists. B+