It's Not Me, It's You

Lily Allen

EMI/Capitol, 2009

http://www.lilyallenmusic.com/

REVIEW BY: Jono Russell

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/09/2009

It seems an age ago that Lily Allen’s playful Alright, Still arrived, bringing with it a fresh pop sound -- coupled with the sort of wit and mischievousness not usually seen in chart toppers -- that resulted in countless copycats.

Not only does her second album have to compete with a successful debut, but it also must contend with the legions of Lily-likes. Perhaps to counter this, Allen chose to move away from the ska-tinged flavour injected by former producer Mark Ronson and instead to a glossy-electro pop sound. The result is something of a mixed bag.

The shift was clear when the first single from It’s Not Me, It’s You dropped. “The Fear” lacks the horns, hooks and immediate appeal of “LDN,” an indication of what was to come with this album. Throughout the synth-and-irony-laden reflection of life through the eyes of a celebrity, it’s clear that this is the same Lily, though: “I’ll take my clothes off and it will be shameless / ‘Cause everyone knows that’s how you get famous,” she sings set to a sleek electro beat.

Further confirmation comes in “Not Fair,” the obligatory ex-boyfriend bashing that seems to accompany every Allen release. Producer Greg Kurstin’s strange choice of a faux-country backdrop (topping Katy Perry’s faux-lesbianism) makes the recounting of the ex’s bedroom shortcomings -- no pun intended -- all the more intriguing. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“I look into your eyes / I want to get to know ya / Then you make this noise and it’s apparent it’s all over” is delivered alongside furious banjo plucking. The bizarre blend almost makes up for the cringeworthy “I think you’re really mean / You never make me scream” rhyme.

Allen’s vitriol is not just aimed at former lovers this time around. The subtlety titled “Fuck You” is a farewell for President George W Bush -- it was originally called “Guess Who Batman” -- and encourages him to “please don’t stay in touch.” Despite the sincere sentiment and jaunty piano chord progression, the chorus just ends up as grating.

“Everyone’s At It” is another attempt at tackling a weightier topic. Breaking news: everyone is taking drugs. “So your daughter’s depressed / Well, get her straight on the Prozac / But little do you know / She already takes crack,” Allen reveals, perhaps in a bid to get British tabloids back to sensationalising drugs instead of her love life.

It’s that part of her life, after all, that results in some of Allen’s best material. “Who’d Have Known” captures the giddy elation of a new relationship perfectly, though the chorus may sound remarkably familiar. It’s borrowed from Take That’s “Shine,” though, of course, in Lily’s hands the lyrics and delivery are improved exponentially.

If there’s any right-wing evangelicals left listening after the revelations about Allen’s sex life and the skewering of George W. Bush, they may enjoy “Him.” It’s musings about a deity (insert your own), although it’s far tamer than perhaps you’d expect as it poses more questions than answers. It does reveal God’s favourite band, though: “I don’t imagine he’s ever been suicidal / His favourite band is Creedence Clearwater Revival.”

It’s Not Me, It’s You is by no means perfect. There are more than a few clunky lyrics and sonic missteps, but on the whole, it’s a slick, enjoyable and ultimately addictive listen -- and is a step above most of the other pop poisoning the airwaves.

Rating: B+

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© 2009 Jono Russell and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of EMI/Capitol, and is used for informational purposes only.