Tuesday, February 10, 2009
IT'S NOT ME, IT'S YOU
Lily Allen's 2007 debut, "Alright, Still," was one of the year's best pop albums -- a sun-splashed, reggae-tinged romp through the young British starlet's life. There was no personal detail that she wasn't willing to share, much to the chagrin of some ex-lovers, no doubt. She has since become a prime target of the British tabloids, but since she was so forthcoming to begin with, she seemed a natural fit for the role.
But "It's Not Me, It's You" finds Allen sounding a bit exhausted. She continues to sing about nice guys who can't please her in bed ("Not Fair") and rampant drug use ("Everyone's at It"), but there's a spark missing.
She still has a knack like few others for a catchy melody and clever turn of phrase, but the brightness and bounciness -- both in her voice and in the music itself -- has been traded in for an icier, almost club-pop sound. If "Alright, Still" was what you listened to before a big night out, then "It's Not Me" is the soundtrack to the after-hours letdown. She's still sassy, even if she doesn't curse as much, but there are fewer moments of vulnerability that made her debut so refreshing. If the tabloids have helped turned her into a caricature, this album does little to disprove that perception.
Genre experiments such as a bit of spaghetti western on "The Fear" and the retro-swing of "He Wasn't There" turn out surprisingly well, hinting at a better and more varied future for Allen. It's when she gets self-righteous and political on a song like "[Expletive] You" that things fall apart.
Lily Allen performs April 17 at the 9:30 club.
-- David Malitz
DOWNLOAD THESE: "Everyone's at It," "Not Fair"