Review Date: 2006-07-21
This is a music review. So you shouldnÂ’t care if her father is Nelson Mandela or that she got her big break by selling her demos out of the back of a Toyota Hiace on the M4. This is a music website, not the biography channel. And I hear that thereÂ’s a Tom Cruise special on at the moment. Followed by Inside the ActorÂ’s Studio with Marissa Tomei. So if you want to read, or re-read as the case may well be, about LilyÂ’s background and how she made it, as well as her outspoken views, fuck off somewhere else. YouÂ’re buying the album, not the hype. And as for telling you to fuck off, Lily would approve. So IÂ’ll do it again, fuck off.
The album opens with recent UK number 1 Â‘SmileÂ’, a song about getting revenge on an ex-boyfriend. This is a common theme in AllenÂ’s music. Her acerbic wit comes through in most songs. SheÂ’s been compared to the Streets, as both sing about the daily routines of British life. Unfortunately for Mike Skinner, his appraisal of English life isnÂ’t so caustic. Â‘Knock Â‘Em OutÂ’ is a perfect example of this. ItÂ’s a ska-tinged pop number (most of the songs here are built around a solid horn section), about turning down approaches from strangers in bars. Her put-downs range from getting married, being pregnant, her house being on fire, and if you listen very closely at the end, youÂ’ll hear her say she has Â“herpes, no syphilisÂ”.
Â‘LDNÂ’ was the really hyped demo from her myspace page. Damnit, I told myself I wouldnÂ’t mention that site. But thatÂ’s where youÂ’ve heard it before, in case youÂ’re wondering. ItÂ’s a really summery tune Â“sun is in the sky / oh why, oh why / would I wanna be anywhere else?Â” ItÂ’s a tale of London in the summer. And anyone who has been to London in the summer will attest that it is a lovely place, Lily doesnÂ’t think so Â“if you look twice, youÂ’ll see itÂ’s all liesÂ”. Well, I suppose if you live there, youÂ’ll see the flaws more easily. Holiday-makers are enchanted by the fact that theyÂ’re not at home, thus, everywhere looks exceptional in comparison.
Â‘EverythingÂ’s Just WonderfulÂ’ has the claim to be a Track-Fu winner, beating Justin Timberlake in the process. And this truly must be the best accolade Lily Allen has received so far. Â‘Not BigÂ’ is lyrically a much better ex-boyfriend song that Â‘SmileÂ’. Â“Alright how would it make you feel if I told you that you never ever made me come? / In the year and a half that we spent together, Yeah I never really had much fun.Â” Later, she becomes even more vengeful Â“Yeah lets rewind, let's turn back time to when you couldn't get it up / You know what it shoulda ended there / That's when I shoulda shown you the door / If that weren't enough to deal with, You became premature.Â”
The songs here have really powerful, memorable choruses. The whole of Â‘Friday NightÂ’ sums this up. While the lyrics may not be as strong as on some of the other songs, no-one could accuse this of being a bad song. Allen knows how to make a memorable hook, and thereÂ’s enough hook here to catch Moby Dick (poor metaphor, but how often do you get to mention Moby Dick in a music review?) Â‘Shame For YouÂ’ is another put-down song. It introduces a kind of 80s sound to the proceedings, but keeps all of AllenÂ’s wit Â“Oh my gosh, you must be joking me / if you think that you'll be poking me.Â” Unfortunately, the song sounds a bit dated, and probably proves to be the worst song here.
ItÂ’s not all Â“fuck offÂ” here though. Â‘Littlest ThingsÂ’ is amazingly, a ballad, and itÂ’s not spiteful in the least. ItÂ’s a romantic little number, recounting the early stages of a beautiful romance. It showcases AllenÂ’s skill as a singer, and a songwriter, as she can pull this off just as well as any of the bitching numbers. Â‘Take What You TakeÂ’ is a Madchester song. One thing a woman from London shouldnÂ’t be attempting. It works better than it should, but seems out of place with the rest of the album. The lyrics are a bit too rhyming-dictionary for my liking though.
The albumÂ’s last two tracks, Â‘Friend of MineÂ’ and Â‘AlfieÂ’ show off AllenÂ’s vocals. SheÂ’s not just another Mike Skinner. This girl can sing. Whereas Mike has to get other people to sing his choruses (see Â‘Dry Your EyesÂ’ for example). Â‘Friend of MineÂ’ is another one of those songs not quite up to the mark set by AllenÂ’s early demos. Â‘AlfieÂ’, however, is. ItÂ’s not a cover of the Michael Caine film theme, but itÂ’s just as fun. It uses a sample of Â‘Puppet on a StringÂ’ by Sandie Shaw. This works just as well as any Kanye sample. It sounds like a song that could be used on some childrenÂ’sÂ’ TV show (one aimed at under-10s), thatÂ’s except for the swearing and the drug references of course.
Tracks to Download: Knock Â‘Em Out, Smile, LDN, Littlest Things, EverythingÂ’s Just Wonderful, Not Big, Alfie
Except for a couple of songs, this is a truly great pop album. With lots of swearing and bitching. Allen truly deserves the acclaim sheÂ’s getting. Do believe the hype. Now IÂ’m off to watch Â“Where are they now? The stars of DallasÂ” on the Biography Channel. And you, can fuck off.
- Ronan Hunt-Murphy