x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Lily Allen: It's Not Me, It's You

For the tell-all generation, something hasn't truly happened until it has been recorded in a volley of tweets and status updates.

AD200910367683905AR
AD200910367683905AR

For the tell-all generation, something hasn't truly happened until it has been recorded in a volley of tweets and status updates. It's no real surprise, then, that pop music seems to have taken a strangely testimonial turn. And so it is with Lily Allen, who first fixed her saucer eyes on us in 2006, when her debut album Alright, Still ushered in a new era of lippy pop starlets. The tunes were good enough, but it was the lyrics that really caught the public's attention. Dressed up in sugary reggae beats were intermittent explosions of potty-mouthed vitriol aimed at past boyfriends and modern life. The result was an audience divided between lovers and loathers. Two and a half years have passed and suffice to say Allen has not spent the time in quiet reflection on a remote Scottish island avoiding the media glare. Instead, barely a day goes by without several tabloid inches being dedicated to her nights on the town or pounds shed and regained. Luckily for us, the break seems to have provided her with a whole host of new people and things to mouth off about. Produced by Greg Kurstin, the Los Angeles native and wonder boy behind such pop dazzlers as Kylie, Britney and Nellie, It's Not Me, It's You is a terrifyingly slick affair. The ska and soul-heavy motifs of Alright, Still have been left behind in favour of electro-pop, country, folk, and vaudeville - a heady combination. The current single The Fear is an ironic look at the celebrity-obsessed youth culture. Yawn, you may think, but Allen's wry sense of humour and deadpan delivery of lines like "I'm not a saint and I'm not a sinner, but everything's cool as long as I'm getting thinner" give the tinny pop beats a crackling edge. Likewise, Everyone's at It, a jaded take on society's bad habits, is jarring in its honesty while delivering a rollicking blast of pop. Her vocal style is, like her lyrics, uncomplicated, and, bar the scattering of mockney "uvvers" and "finks", rather emotive. It's when she gets her political hat on that things go a little awry, and the untimely ode to George Bush just sounds like a petulant teenager having a rant. Who'd Have Known is a sweet ballad about young love, and Chinese touchingly depicts the mundanities of everyday life as the bits that matter. Life through Allens lens is far from rosy, and there aren't many aspects of her private life that don't get an airing here, including her neglectful father, past boyfriends and familial tensions; but this is a brave attempt to define the mood of her generation, and she does it with precocious and loveable swagger.