Lily Allen | It’s Not Me, It’s You (Capitol)

cd_lily-allen.jpgFrom society’s addiction to illegal and prescribed narcotics, to former President George W. Bush and her relationship with her father, there is nothing Allen won’t throw on the table.

 

 

Almost three years since the release of her debut album Alright, Still, Lily Allen is back to give the world another dose of raw, non-sugar-coated reality in her sophomore album It’s Not Me, It’s You. Where her first release gave us a taste of London, encompassing ska and all of its cultural/musical attributes, this album focuses on sounds a little closer to home. From country to big band with a dip of traditional Greek in between, she appears to be keeping the scope of her artistic talents wide open. A hybrid of her first album, It’s Not Me starts off with the same sound as Alright, Still but transforms itself slowly throughout the album, track by track, into a concoction that resembles a posh and much more mature Allen. Branding a softer, pinker pose on the cover this time around, Allen may have softened her looks but not her tongue. Still singing about ex-boyfriends and society’s unspoken laundry, It’s Not Me, It’s You, as cliché as it may sound, is a breath of fresh air. From society’s addiction to illegal and prescribed narcotics, to former President George W. Bush and her relationship with her father, there is nothing Allen won’t throw on the table.

The first release off the album, "The Fear," is a strong pop/rock track that blatantly reminds us of our infatuation with success and how our perceptions are all to often set by images in magazines and on television. Proclaiming "I’ll look at The Sun, and I’ll look in The Mirror/ I’m on the right track, yeah I’m on to a winner"—referencing two of Britain’s most popular celebrity gossip newspapersAllen has thrown down the gauntlet on society’s taboos, claiming her spot on the list of most unforgettable and provocative albums of the year. Swedish DJ StoneBridge has already released an amazing version of her single, advancing the beat to a whole new level of sassy and sexy, leaving the song even more unbelievably phenomenal. The StoneBridge version is available on iTunes, along with other newly released versions by Wideboys and Dresden & Johnston.

Don’t let her fool you with this softer look; Allen isn’t softening anything this go around. Exhibit A: "It’s Not Fair," a country-esque track fully equipped with all traditional instruments, including a little banjo action. As tame as that sounds, you’ve never heard a country song with lyrics like these before, as Allen unloads frustrations with her boyfriend’s inadequacies in bed and the consequences of losing such an otherwise exceptional significant other.

It’s tracks like this one that make the album fun and entertaining and often shed light on social pressures turning them into humorous nonsense. At the ripe old age of 23, she’s written a song entitled "22" that gives light to the unspoken but insinuated social belief that women should be educated, successful, married and fully set by age 30, lest they be deemed unsuccessful, modern-day spinsters. The track has a slow tempo to it but harbors enough sarcasm to make the tune lighthearted. On the more personal side, "Back to the Start" is an electronic dance-style track with a sincere tone, recalling her turbulent relationship with her sister, while "He Wasn’t There" recounts her rocky relationship with her father, British actor/comedian Keith Allen. With optimistic lyrics and upbeat tempo, the latter is done in the style of ’40s big band and equipped with light, faux record static throughout the track to assist in its vintage sound.

"Him," a humorous track personifying God and questioning his opinion on people’s choices in modern society, is reminiscent of Joan Osborne’s "What If God Were One of Us." The track personifies God in such a way that makes you think about the true moral consequences of some of the decisions people make in society. Allen sings, "Every since he can remember people have died in his good name/ long before that September, long before hijacking planes," an obvious reference to the terrorist attacks of September 11. Allen has done an incredible job balancing sincerity with humor, best exemplified in this track but also true throughout the album.

It comes as no surprise after familiarizing yourself with the slew of issues that politics is not off the table. As a sort of post-presidential sendoff, "Fuck You" is the track that is the most controversial—depending on your political views, you’ll either love it or hate it. While the main chorus is all you really need to get the meaning out of this song, she takes the opportunity to get in her own fair share of stabs at the former president.

You’ll also want to check out Allen’s version of Britney Spears’ "Womanizer," available on her MySpace page or on her official website. The version gives Spears something to aspire to, including an authentic taste to what vengeance should sound like. Other tracks to check out are "Fag Hag" and "Kabul Shit," B-sides  to "The Fear." As derogatory as the titles may sound, the tracks are positive and humorous commentaries, as usual with Allen. A | Jennifer Manjarez

RIYL: Kate Nash, Adele, Natasha Bedingfield

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