• Darby VanDeVeen

Ava Max’s ‘Heaven and Hell’ is a Familiar Dance Album but Nothing More

“A good listen if you’re in need of a quick pick-me-up, but not if you’re looking to dive into a more meaningful album”

Ava Max made a strong debut with her first single, “Sweet But Psycho” in 2018. It blew up on the radio and it seemed like everyone was looking forward to Max’s debut. With her asymmetrical haircut, Max was ready to take over the world of pop and shoot herself to stardom. Unfortunately, her debut album Heaven & Hell is far from the album she needed to release.

Each of the songs individually is enjoyable, and upon first listen I found myself dancing along and lip-syncing to each one. However, when the 15 tracks are put together the songs blend into each other. I found myself instantly forgetting what the previous track sounded like as I was listening to it. After a point, each song felt formulaic and like she was trying to recreate the success of “Sweet But Psycho” without adding any originality.

Lyrically, the album was boring. There were some high points, like “Kings & Queens,” which finds Max singing an empowering anthem about how women in leadership roles can be just as strong as their male counterparts (“You might think I’m weak without a sword/But if I had one it’d be bigger than yours”). A lot of the other songs attempt to be empowering, but rely on cheesy concepts to pull them through. “Naked” embodies the tried and true concept of only truly being “naked” with your partner once your deepest scars and secrets are shared. “So Am I” is the biggest offender of the clichés with the line “but it’s okay to be different/’Cause baby so am I” making me cringe the hardest.

What Heaven & Hell lacked in originality was made up for with generic pop production and powerful vocals. Clichés become clichés because people can relate to them and because they’re true in a sense. Radio-friendly dance beats and production will help Max to gain recognition and cement her place in the industry. Even though I was harsh to this album, I do have to point out that each song has you on your feet dancing. Heaven & Hell is a good listen if you’re in need of a quick pick-me-up, but not if you’re looking to dive into a more meaningful album.


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