Lily Allen burst on the scene two years ago with her sassy take on London life with “LDN” and “Smile.” She was different from the other song thrushes coming out of the U.K.: unlike someone like Amy Winehouse, she was not remotely steeped in the girl-groups of the past. She was looking in only one direction musically– straight ahead. Much of “Alright, Still,” was so endearing and Allen’s accent so thick, it was hard to imagine she would translate across the Atlantic, but she has. And the good news is that while in Britain, she’s one of those artists where it’s easy to let the spectacle of her life– sparring with Elton John, stumbling around drunk, allegedly carrying on with a married man almost twice her age-overshadow the music, that’s not the case here.
On her new album, “It’s Not Me, It’s You,” out today, the 23-year-old Allen shows delightful growth as a songwriter, while retaining the feistiness that made her so refreshing upon first discovery. There’s no U.S. singer doing what Allen does-Katy Perry’s faux-cheekiness doesn’t begin to match it.
First single, “The Fear,” is a wicked parody on fame and consumerism, its impact made all the more slyly devious by her sweet delivery. It entered the Official U.K. Singles chart at No. 1 and has just come on to Billboard’s Hot Dance Airplay chart.
Throughout the album, there’s a delicious dichotomy going on: Allen manages to lacerate with the most searing of indictments, such as declaring “you never make me scream” at a selfish lover, even after she’s “spent ages giving you head” in “Not Fair.” Or she venomously spits out that “it makes me really sad to hear you so desperate” to an unrequited boyfriend on “Never Gonna Happen.” But these comments are delivered with the most syrupy, dulcet tones. Plus, much of the music (less dance-laden than ‘Alright, Still’) has a light, almost kaleidoscope, carousel feel. It’s a fun album to listen to and you’re guaranteed to pick up different nuances on such songs as the wistful “22.” However, there is no subtlety whatsoever on “Fuck You,” where the straight Allen takes on homophobic louts with “So you say, it’s not okay to be be gay. I think you’re just evil.” But again, she delivers the epithet to the bounciest, most lighthearted beat.
This one deserves to be big.
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