“The game is changing. Can’t just come back, jump on the mic, and do the same thing”.
If there was one thing you wouldn’t associate with Lily Allen, it’s self doubt. Right from the off, she was full of bravado and had the music to match it – a breezy, devil may care take on pop music that mined the seam of great British style and sounds. Two fine albums in and that seemed it, her departure from the scene one of the rare examples of bowing out on a high.
Domestic life in place, however, she’s back for another swing with Sheezus. The album title may exude the familiar confidence but the song itself, which opens the record and contains the lyrics quoted above, suggests that cracks are beginning to appear in her previously bulletproof persona. A few well aimed barbs at Katy Perry and Beyoncė (plus some love Lorde) and she rallies however – “give me that crown bitch, I want to be Sheezus”. It’s a shame that the musical backing is so uninspiring.
And that unfortunately is the recurring theme of the album. The lyrics veer from domestic contentment to withering put downs but none of it’s particularly interesting to listen to. ‘Close Your Eyes’ sounds like an outtake from the awful third Spice Girls record coupled with heavy handed sexual innuendo and truly annoying autotuned vocals. ‘Insincerely Yours’ snipes at a succession of modern cultural figures but comes across as means spirited more than insightful and ‘Silver Spoon’ suggests an almighty chip on someone’s shoulder. There’s very little insight and certainly equally rare musical substance, in stead favouring a bland over-produced pastiche of modern trends.
The moments that do rise above the average are all the more frustrating in comparison. ‘Our Time’ balances a sweet melody with a let’s have it lyric, ‘Take My Place’ is the kind of elegant, adult pop that she should perhaps concentrate more on and ‘As Long As I Get You’ is a pleasantly weird country number. Best of all is ‘Life For Me’, which drops in an African guitar vibe with an honest, warm account of the life of a young mother. Coupled with the flawed but well meaning ‘Hard Out There’ and it at least ensures that Sheezus finishes on some sort of a high. Even though she’s taken her own advice and not come back and done the same old thing, Lily Allen’s return is still a long way from triumphant.