Lily Allen is a musician. We point this out in case you may have got her confused with Lily Allen the TV host, tabloid fixture, celebrity feuder, victim of personal tragedy, drinker and fan of the old drugs. There have been many moments when any or all of the latter have threatened to overshadow the former to the point that many wondered if a second album would ever see the light of day. Yet following helpful advice from the likes of her father (“she needs to know when to fucking shut up”) new tracks started to appear on, what else, her Myspace page and now, finally, It’s Not Me, It’s You is here.
In many ways, it’s business as usual. The lyrics to opener ‘Everyone’s At It’ (“So your daughter’s depressed / We’ll get her straight on the prozac / But little do you know, she already takes crack”) may seem designed to outrage the moral majority but somewhere in there Allen has a point to make, both about society at large and her own experiences in particular. It’s a point that she keeps on making. ‘The Fear‘ offers her mixed up feelings on celebrity life in the spotlight, damning and desiring it at the same time, while ’22’ examines the pressures on young women.
Sexual politics and relationship issues abound, sometimes handled with a lightness of touch (‘Back To The Start’), at other times a little too crass for its own good – ‘Not Fair‘ and its talk of wet patches and giving head. The much vaunted George Bush / BNP attack ‘Fuck You’ is well meaning but ends up as nothing more than some sort of school yard taunting. That a pop star wants to take on these kind of subjects is only to be applauded but the results need to be a little more thought out.
It’s on the musical front that the most developments have taken place. The ragged charm of Alright, Still is largely missing, replaced by the sleek sound of electronics. Producer Greg Kurstin has fashioned a record that counters the ragged edges of Allen’s lyrics with a mainstream pop feel, allowing those issues and opinions to sneak their way onto the mass airwaves. There are overtones of New Order and the Pet Shop Boys throughout, especially on ‘I Could Say’, but after a while you begin to yearn for a more human touch, for a hint of imperfection to creep through.
Ultimately, em>It’s Not Me, It’s You is a far from perfect record, although it has perfect moments. It is however, what Lily Allen needed to do, to avoid slipping into cliche and simply making a carbon copy of her debut. The result is a pop record that is at turns enchanting, inspiring, frustrating and confusing. What is never, though, is dull.