Monday, January 26, 2009
Album Review: Lily Allen - It's Not Me, It's You (4.5/5)
Bursting onto the UK music scene with her debut album Alright, Still back in 2006, Lily Allen became one of many UK female artists arising from the past few years to capture the true essence of cool, slick contemporary pop music, following the likes of Estelle ("American Boy") Adele ("Chasing Pavements") Gabriella Climi ("Sweet About Me") and Leona Lewis ("Bleeding Love"). Alright, Still was packed with a mixture of different approaches to contemporary pop, the flowery, Jamaican flavored ("LDN") and the upbeat summery ("Smile") launched her to early success, were prime examples. Deep album cuts, the fast paced, hand clap chant like ("Everything's Just Fine") and the stomping, industrial themed ("Friday Night") were just a few of the tracks that made Alright, Still among the best pop albums of 2006.
Now 4 years on and we have It's Not Me, It's You, the album strays away from the traditional pop displayed on Alright, Still taking on a more mature, electronic sound -loosing the typical contemporary pop theme, linking a breezy rough edged euro-pop and fusing it with fast paced trancy beats, keeping the albums pace fast, snappy and sharp. Where would Lily be without her pointless vulgarity, it doesn't bother me, but at times on the album it does seem a tad awkward. Where's the parental advisory on the album?
"Everyone's At It" is a pleasing opener, setting the recurring tone of the album, the song combines a wonderful combination of electronic and easy, fresh pop -with sirens going off the background. The songs lyrical content is politically and socially fueled introducing a more serious side to Lily, something that was purposely hidden on Alright, Still, I kinda like serious Lily.
"The Fear" which is set to top the UK singles chart next week, is the lead single from the album, this is where you can see the borderline difference between this era and the previous, while the lead single ("Smile") from Alright, Still was an upbeat, retro contemporary track, whilst "The Fear" is a more crafted, intricate slice of electronic pop, bottom line-- I don't think the single is as strong of a lead single as ("Smile") but nonetheless it's a brilliant pop song.
Swiftly moving onto "Not Fair" which takes the album in a weird fast paced, country direction, something I've never heard Lily pursue before. Listening carefully, you can here some banjo's and faint violins running against the background. Brilliant stuff. It makes me happy commenting on her maturity since the last time we heard of her. "22" is piano based track, it's almost reminiscent of something off of Scissor Sisters debut album, the song sounds laughably cartoonish as it runs through the second verse, definitely one of my favorites on here.
"I Could Say" takes on a more trancy, digitized vibe -reminds me of something from Madonna's Ray of Light album (yes, I've been listening to that album for most of today) and Britneys "Heaven On Earth" from her Blackout album. I love the bleeps in the background, you can also hear some faint screeching violins there. "Back To The Start" is my least favorite --sounds like a grover-- but nevertheless it's still a decent track to listen to, very fast paced and tranquisit.
"Never Gonna Happen" is more slower than the previous tracks and more adventures despite incorporating nothing more than drums, strings and faint horns. The songs chorus is very melodic, verses seem a tad empty but that's what gives the song the luring effect. Next up the obvious vulgarity of the album "Fuck You" admittedly the song makes me laugh every time I listen to it. Accompanied by its playful tune, the main, catchy lyrics to the chorus are: "fuck you, fuck you very much", putting a playful twist on the vulgarity by saying it in a light, cheery voice, maybe Britney should take note on her new single ("If U Seek Amy"): saying the word "fuck" in a light, cheery voice makes the term seem less offensive.
"Who'd Have Known" is an upbeat drum based track, it takes its melody from Take That's ("Shine") that gives me another reason for me not to buy a Take That record. Yay. "Chinese" is a breezy, telephonic track, another one of my favorites. "Him" falls into mediocrity, it has a nice melody but it seems more of a filler to lengthen the album. Closing the album is "He Wasn't There" which is a pretty disappointing ending to the album, with it's distorted background, it sounds like something from the 50s, but that's not what's wrong with it, it's just a weak ending to the album, a ballad or a rock edged track would be good.
Bottom line-- It's Not Me, It's You is incomparable to its predecessor, they're really different, pursuing in various directions of pop- my verdict is Alright, Still remains the superior album, but It's Not Me, It's You nips at its heels, it just hasn't got that many catchy songs, while ("The Fear") is great, the album doesn't have its ("Smile") or ("Alfie") for that matter. It seems I'll be listening for weeks to come (bye bye Lady GaGas The Fame).
Best Tracks: Everyone's At It, The Fear, Not Fair, 22, I Could Say, Never Gonna Happen, Fuck You, Who'd Have Known, Chinese