Friday, 13 February 2009

My Pod - Music and Stuff: Lily Allen: It's Not Me, It's You

When Lily Allen burst onto the music scene a couple of years ago with her reggae-lite pop anthem 'Smile' and the likable album 'Alright, Still' it was hard to ignore the slight whiff of 'famous-Dad/novelty-turn', especially when Lily started drifting into the gossip columns and doing her bit on the celebrity circuit. Lily's young and she's (very) pretty and naturally enough our fine British tabloids became far more interested in who lily's dating, how drunk Lily is, what drugs Lily takes than what she might be doing with her career. And yes, her rather embarrassing BBC3 chat show last year seemed to suggest that maybe Lily herself wasn't taking her career too seriously...

Well, pop fans, we can all stop worrying. Lily's much-delayed second album 'It's Not me, It's You' (it was completed and ready to go last year but Parlophone, in their wisdom, decided to hold it back a bit) is out (released on Monday 9th February in the UK) and not only is it a damned fine pop album in its own right it's actually exciting enough to make you think that maybe Lily's on to something and maybe there's a more than decent chance she could really make a go of this pop star lark. The omens were good, of course, when the first single, 'The Fear', started getting radio play at the tail end of 2008. Instantly, hopelessly, infernally catchy, with witty and acerbic lyrics (and a nice but of cussin' for the radio stations to bleep out!) it sounded like a Great Pop Song (and I do love a Great Pop Song) and sure enough it's romped to number one in what passes for the singles chart these days. The album's getting very positive reviews too and Stuff's got a feeling that this is a collection which is going to be around for months, spewing out a string of radio-friendly hits.

Lily's young and spunky and she speaks her mind. She's bothered by stuff that bothers most 20-somethings....hopeless boyfriends, doomed relationships, staying in and watching the telly. If it didn't sound so pretentious I'd say that 'It's Not Me, It's You' has caught the zeitgeist with 12 songs which are hugely and irresistibly catchy and are likely to connect with a lot of sulky young girls out there. There's not a duff track here - not even 'Chinese' which is ultimately a love song to a takeaway meal. Lily's moved away from the reggae beats of the first album and gone for tighter, punchier rythmns, dance beats and even a bit of juddering electro. The theme is very much relationships and how they either don't work or end up going nowhere. 'Never Gonna Happen' sees Lily trying to break it none-too-gently to an unsuitable suitor, 'Not Fair' is about being frustrated (in every sense of the word) by a selfish boyfriend, and 'Everyone's At It' is a bit of a jab at the ubiquity of recreational chemical substances. Lily even goes in for a little bit of politics and religious musing on 'Him' when she wonders if God is getting a bit fed up with all the terrible things people to to one another in His name. 'Back To The Start' stamps and rattles and has got Number One written all over it, frankly and maybe it's the sniggering kid in me but, despite the afct it starts off sounding like it's going to be a cover of the theme from 'Neighbours' 'F*** You' is just about the most insanely catchy thing I've come across since I had the flu just before Christmnas. 'F*** You' will lodge in your brain instantly and you will have to fight very hard to stop yourself singing it at home and in public (where you may risk getting arrested). Lily gets a bit cheeky in 'Who'd Have Known' which must be raising some eyebrows in Take That-land as it's virtually a clone of their 2007 hit 'Shine'.

'It's Not Me, It's You' does exactly what you want from a Lily Allen album and it does exactly what I expect from a pop album. Bright, breezy, full of life and surprisingly mature lyrically, this is a CD which will be taking up residency on Stuff's I-Pod for months and it comes highly recommended to anyone who likes damned good pop music.

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