Review: Lily Allen – It’s Not Me, It’s You

Full disclosure, I love Lily Allen. Not her music, pre se, but her. I find her utterly compelling. A combination of adorable and total mess, alcoholic horror show notwithstanding. Her first album, Alright, Still, was serviceable but lacked a certain something. She was full of cheeky bravado and her lyrics were both dark as hell and a lot of fun. But her ska-pop stylings often left me cold (and when she laid them aside for songs like “Not Big” and “Alfie” she took her schtick to a new level).

Then early last year she announced her next album would be an electronic record. Now, when a mainstream artist says something along those lines it as often as not never pans out. What mainstream artists deem “electronic” rarely bares much resemblance to what fans of the genre would suggest. Yet when she released “The Fear” at the tail end of ’08 I was surprised to realize just how much she meant it. She essentially popped out an electro-pop ditty that ended up my favourite single of 2008.

The rest of It’s Not Me, It’s You stands up along similar lines. She’s made an album that takes the best elements of her last album, namely, her wonderful, dark lyrics, brimming with delicious cynicism, and her melodious, innocent, “who me?” voice and combined them with electronics throughout the album, a musical styling that makes her voice pop all the more and offers the best poppy, light sound vs. gouge your eyes out cynical lyrics juxtaposition since the Beautiful South called it a day. 

From “The Fear”, with it’s look-down-your-nose-at-the-assholes-in-the-entertainment-business sneer, to the “we’re-all-on-drugs-when-you-really-think-of-it” cautionary tale of “Everyone’s At It”; from the Johnny Cash-influenced train-chug of “Not Fair” to stompers like “Never Gonna Happen” and “Fuck You” (the later taking the aforementioned juxtaposition to ridiculous, wonderful new heights). She even takes on god itself in the provocative “Him”. The album is a joy to listen to straight through (the one mild exception being the too-languid “Chinese”) and shows a mainstream artist embracing the synths and coming out the better for it. 

Watch: The Fear…

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