Although I had my doubts, Lily Allen's sophomore effort "It's Not Me, It's You", very much surpasses the greatness of acclaimed debut "Alright, Still". To be honest, my expectations were lowered after hearing recent UK number 1 single "The Fear". Quite literally, Lily singing about wanting to get slim and rich (in no particular order of preference), isn't treading territory that wasn't covered already previously. I'm sure many of you will disagree, including you Raj (!), but even a remix by the amazing Wideboys couldn't resuscitate this single in my opinion.
Upon giving "It's Not Me, It's You" a few thorough listens, I must say that I am impressed overall in terms of its cohesiveness. The album is sequenced to perfection with a seamless flow, and although "The Fear" hinted that this album may have gone towards an electro-heavy direction, the signature whimsicality which won Lily the many fans that she has, resurfaces once again here. The album was produced much in part with Greg Kurstin (The Bird and The Bee) and the chemistry here is undeniable. What makes Lily unique is that her music is a blend of masculine bravado and understated femininity – an art which she has mastered, placing her in a different league from many of her contemporaries.
Lily hits below the belt again on Johnny Cash-esque "Not Fair", which is about a suitor who appears to be everything that she could hope for…. except in the area of lovemaking prowess. This I must remind you, is not unlike "Not Big" from her last album where she quite literally complains about exactly what the title suggests. "22" touches upon the double standard of women having an arbitrarily-imposed expiry period versus men. Piano-driven "I Could Say", is set interestingly against a booty-beat; perhaps the strongest track on the album. The song is an after-thought about the feeling of liberation experienced post-relationship (Ed Simons of Chemical Brothers, anyone?). Equally delightful is "Chinese", a simple tune about enjoying the minutiae of life such as walking a dog, enjoying beans on toast (a delicacy I've never quite come to enjoy myself!) and ordering Chinese food. "Never Gonna Happen" is brutally honest, touching upon the phenomena of post-breakup sex – something many of us may relate to, but not necessarily sing about in a song. The ultimate comedic moment on "It's Not Me, It's You" comes late in the album on the track "Fuck You" which hits back at Lily Haters and George W. Bush collectively (thanks Shane for pointing this out!) with brute force. All this, and Lily's controversial commentary on rampant drug use in society in "Everyone's At It". Tons of fodder to keep the bloggers on their fingertips.
Although many of us have missed the full preview of the album yesterday, you can still hear many tracks off the album at Lily's Myspace. "It's Not Me, It's You" is out February 9th in the UK and February 10th in North America. Stellar.