Tuesday, February 17, 2009

ALBUM REVIEW: Lily Allen's "It's Not Me, It's You"

Lily Allen's sophomore album, cleverly titled It's Not Me, It's You, was released last week, and I got around to listening to it over the holiday weekend. I'm not exactly a Lily-aficionado--I don't have every single off her first album on loop or embedded into my Myspace page, and I don't read her blog and keep up with every scandalous thing she says and does--but I did download "Smile" and "Knock 'Em Out" like everyone else did back in '06. And since the last tracks I downloaded were from the Jonas Brothers' album in August, I thought I'd refresh my music vault.

Wikipedia made a point of noting that Lily wanted to veer away from the sound that famous producer Mark Ronson created for her, because everyone's starting to copy it. Instead, she's ended up with a mix of sounds that don't exactly make for a coherent theme.

Skip 'em
• The track "Not Fair" has an odd Old West cowboys-and-Indians tune that's highly distracting from her hilarious description of how unsatisfied she was by one of her lovers.

• In "I Could Say," it starts off slow with a dominant piano and then a drumbeat that sounds like a heart palpitation joins in as she continues to reveal how much better she is without someone who was just weighing her down.

• "Back to the Start" gets deep into techno, but it's mellow and somber as Lily apologizes for being envious and rude.

• Worst of all has to be "Never Gonna Happen," which starts off with what sounds like flamenco rhythmic clapping, then is abruptly joined by a circusy accordion. I felt like I was at a Greek wedding and someone was going to scream "Opa!" any minute...and not in a good way.

• And aside from "Who'd Have Known" and "Chinese" being incredibly boring, there's nothing really more to say about them. I guess they just prove that a happy Lily is a boring Lily. That's an argument for another day--whether artists are more entertaining when they're heartbroken and bitter. I know I preferred Alanis back in '96 when she was a bitch and a lover, and of course "Ironic."

• "22" is where she sings about feeling romantically unfulfilled--having only one-night stands instead of lasting relationships--over finger-snaps and a church organ. I'm a fan of harsh words to the tune of ironic music, but her exclamations of not being interested in someone who hasn't gotten the hint falls a little bit short with this gypsy mix--but again, kudos on the lyrics.

• I liked "Everyone's At It" because of the controversy that surrounded it earlier this year, when Lily claimed that everyone's doing drugs these days, whether it's illegal or prescribed. It sort of adds to the theory that the children of today are growing up as Generation Rx. I think as soon as I read that editors provided coke to celebrities for photo shoots (in How to Lose Friends And Alienate People, a satire of real life journalism experiences), and spotted tips in either GQ or Details on how to use hard drugs in moderation, I realized that drugs are apart of many white people's everyday lives...so maybe Lily's on to something.

• "Him" boldly explores who God really is as a person, which is hilarious in itself, and whether he's concerned about what our world has turned into. The chorus speaks volumes:

"Ever since he can remember/ people have died in his good name/ Long before that September/ Long before hijacking planes/ He's lost the will/ he can't decide/ He doesn't know/ who's right or wrong/ But there's one thing that he's sure of/ this has been going on too long"

• Aside from the exhilaration of the most glorified of curses used in the chorus of "Fuck you," a joyful Bush-bashing song, my personal favorite is...

• ..."The Fear" because of its blatant Hollywood mockery:
"Life's about film stars/ and less about mothers/ It's all about fast cars/ and passing each other/ But it doesn't matter/ cause I'm packing plastic/ and that's what makes my life/ so fucking fantastic/ And I am a weapon of massive consumption/ and it's not my fault/ it's how I'm program to function...Now I'm not a saint/ but I'm not a sinner/ Now everything is cool/ as long as I'm getting thinner"

I think Lily is an amazing lyricist, but she needs to find more producers she clicks with, since Ronson is no longer an option.

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