Album Review: Lily Allen’s ‘Sheezus’ is sweet and tart

Lily Allen has such a sweet voice, but as fans of the British singer know, her words are lethally tart. She may sound like she”s all puppies, rainbows and unicorns, but there”s a dark sense of humor running through almost every song.

On “Sheezus,” her first album since 2009″s “It”s Not Me, It”s You,” Allen takes pot shots at her fellow female artists (or, more specifically,  those who try to divide them), online trolls, D-list celebrities, and anyone else within arm”s reach. Her trenchant, sharp social commentary often hits its bullseye, but it doesn”t always make for an album that feels like it will have a long shelf life.

 In fact, “Sheezus” often feels so of-the-moment that it threatens to evaporate into thin air at times.  Having said that, few artists seem to understand their place as well as Allen: she is completely confident as she comments on the world around her, whether she”s taking the piss out of others and delightfully playing the mean girl (a role she does remarkably well)  or showing her own battle scars. She and producer Greg Kurstin wrap her vocals around a number of different melodies and beats here for one of her more varied albums stylistically, but it always comes back to her acid-tongued delivery and a bit of a feeling that she”s not so sure she”s ready to jump back into fame”s fray.

Below is a track-by-track review:

“Sheezus”:  Allen addresses her return to music on this breathy track and assesses her contemporaries, including  Katy Perry, Beyonce, Lorde, Lady Gaga, and Rihanna. The lighthearted melody belies a cut-throat lyric where she systematically declares why she”s better than all the others and deserves the crown of “Sheezus,” while taking those to task who insist on pitting female artists against each other in a way that isn't done with male artists. Or maybe, as she jokes, maybe she's just moody because she's about to get her period.  Take it as a smack down of Kanye West”s “Yeezus” and Allen”s fun attitudinal track where she”s really defending the fact that more than one woman can rule the pop roost at a time with tongue planted clearly in cheek, but it doesn”t always wear well. GRADE: B-

“L8 CMMR:” Built around The Tom Tom Club”s “Genius of Love,” “L8 CMMR” has the infectious spirit of early Allen, like “LCN,”  with a fun synth-based bubbly beat.  GRADE: A-

“Air Balloon”:  A sweet song about riding high in her air balloon sounds like a clap-along track for a kiddie album that the mother of two will likely never make. Shake it as you sail on through the clouds. GRADE: B-

“Our Time”:  Let”s go out and “lose our minds” and dance the night away. That”s the theme on this layered, melodic track about giving over to the night.  Here it sounds sweet and dreamy, whereas the same tune in the hands of Ke$ha would have been “Tik-Tok Part 2.” GRADE: B