When you weigh Lily Allen‘s artistic output with how much tabloid-style press she gets, it’s safe to say that her personality has earned her just as much attention as her music, if not more. Increasingly known for her party-girl ways and her frank, sometimes harsh interviews and commentary, the big-eyed brunette from the UK spent two years as a media darling between the release of her debut, Alright, Still, and her latest album, It’s Not Me, It’s You.
She starts slinging sass from the very beginning with “Everyone’s At It,” about widespread drug use/abuse. “I’m not trying to say that I’m smelling of roses / but when will we tire of putting shit up our noses?” she asks over a power-electro-pop beat. It’s incredibly club friendly, though it’s hard to picture people on a dance floor jamming to a song about their own drug problem.
Kiss-offs to men abound. There’s “Not Fair,” where Allen rides a beat from a western riff while she complains about a guy who’s giving outside of the bedroom, but not giving in it. In “I Could Say” and “Never Gonna Happen,” she flippantly pushes aside relationships with guys who she finds pathetic or boring, but doesn’t pack much of that infamous attitude in either one.
When she does show anger, it feels misplaced. “22” is an interesting commentary on women devaluing with age, partly because she agrees? Singing about a woman who’s “nearly 30,” she says, “It’s sad but it’s true how society says / her life is already over.” She treks into political territory with “Fuck You,” directed to former US President George W. Bush, but doesn’t have much to add beyond, “Fuck you / fuck you / fuck you very, very much.”
Allen is still an entertainer, though, and her one-liners provide plenty of amusement. In “The Fear,” she claims, “I want to be right and I want lots of money / I don’t care about clever, I don’t care about funny,” but the big joke is her tongue-in-cheek attitude that indicates she so obviously does.
It’s fun to see Allen exploring new musical territory, with blooping, sci-fi electronic beats, piano blues riffs, folky tones and even a dash of klezmer. However, the drawback of Greg Kurstin‘s unusual production is a lack of anything as instantly sugary as her mega hit, “Smile.”
Allen’s superficial comments on heavy subjects make It’s Not Me, It’s You a featherweight affair, but while her youthful vibrancy hinders her in that way, her version of the life and attitudes of a modern-day 20-something are also part of the appeal. As she’s quick to point out in “I Could Say,” “I’ve got a life ahead of me / I’m only 22.”