Plumbiferous Media

It’s Not Me, It’s You – Lily Allen

Feb 12th 2009
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It's Not Me, It's You - Lily AllenLily Allen
It's Not Me, It's You
Score: 67

Lily Allen generally tries to walk along the sometimes fuzzy line between indie and pop music, and as such an artist, her music is a bit more poppy than what we normally like to review, but there are certainly very strong elements on It’s Not Me, It’s You that make it definitely worth reviewing. The intro to the first track rivals of Montreal, Allen’s lyrics are very often incredibly well written, and not only does she never shy away from including expletives, but she knows exactly how to sing them too. Even if you don’t find most of the album worth listening too, the first two tracks alone are worth the price of the album:

“Everyone’s At It” and “The Fear” are simply excellent. The former starts with an almost Arcade Fire-like intro, which clears up to make room for the vocals, while remaining pleasantly dissonant, distorted, and gloriously weird. The vocals themselves seem to stand in complete contrast to the rest of the music, with Allen maintaining her clear, pining, heavily pop-influenced voice. The lyrics, then, a discourse on drug-use, are what tie the two sides of the track together, and the whole thing makes for one amazingly well done mix of eclectic indie and mainstream pop.

The next track lowers the volume for a moment, while Lily Allen imitates what might be a serious track in teen pop music: “I want to be rich… I want lots of clothes…” The first indication (for anyone who previously knew nothing about Lily Allen) that this is a parody is her brilliantly emphasized “fuck-loads of diamonds.” The track quickly picks up speed into an incredible work. Absolutely every element fits together: the guitar line carried over from the introduction mixes perfectly with the synthesized sounds that frequently interject over it, which then frame Allen’s vocals, and each abrupt change in volume is tailor-made to match the lyrics.

Though It’s Not Me, It’s You is certainly better than any generic pop album, it has its own set of flaws. After the first two excellent tracks, the album loses some of the creativity which served to distinguish it, and the indie-like feel of the first two tracks fades away increasingly as the album progresses. The lyrical content also becomes less creative – while “Everyone’s at It” and “The Fear” served as social commentary on drug culture and the pursuit of fame and fortune respectively, for the rest of the album we’re treated to the old pop standbys of relationships gone bad and despair about life in general, though “Fuck You” is a welcome (and quite profane) interlude. However generic the topics of the songs may be, Allen never fails to make her versions much more interesting than the attempts of any of her fellow pop stars, and her ever-present frankness is refreshing.

The later tracks of It’s Not Me, It’s You retain the same original sound Allen is so well known for, but without quite the degree of inspiration present in the first two tracks. The mismatch between subject and sound that Allen has often used to great effect (for example, in “LDN” from her last album, Alright, Still) is quite prevalent, and though it’s not quite jarring here, it occasionally dampens the message of the music in an assumedly unintended manner. However, this certainly doesn’t make the sound of It’s Not Me, It’s You bad by any means – it simply means that the quality regresses slightly as the album continues.

It’s Not Me, It’s You is not your average pop album. Allen’s excellent grasp of musical dynamics, above-average singing voice, occasionally hilarious lyrical aptitude, and fairly successful forays into every musical genre imaginable easily set her newest album above the range of most popular music. However, on the later sections of the album (after the first two excellent tracks), it would be nice if these elements were better combined. Though the occasional clash between elements isn’t nearly enough to ruin or even seriously damage the album, it’s the only thing keeping It’s Not Me, It’s You from being excellent rather than merely good.

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