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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