ALBUM REVIEW – “Sheezus” by Lily Allen

Considering the comprehensive throwing-open of the doors for mass broadcasting one’s personal opinions of music brought about by the internet, it’s remarkable there aren’t more pop stars as self-aware as Lily Allen. Armed with a cutting sense of humour and a total understanding of public perceptions of herself, her music and the industry she’s a part of, over the years she’s given the world some absolute gems, ranging from one hit single that’s an assault on homophobia to another about premature ejaculation. Sheezus (even the title is bound to get someone annoyed with her) is her first record in five years, but it’s clear right from the opening title track that she’s lost none of her eccentricity, managing to balance a chorus acknowledging inevitable comparisons to other female stars with a verse about periods. It barely makes sense, but it’s delirious fun.

Quite simply one of the finest lyricists of any genre today, Allen runs riot on this record, finding time to tear apart both those who criticise her for breaking into the industry through her family on ‘Silver Spoon’, and then the conventions of the industry on ‘Hard Out Here’ (a masterpiece in that it’s impossible to tell just how tongue in cheek it is). The most direct attack, though, is on internet writers poised to tear Sheezus apart, and though the helter-skelter ride of ‘URL Badman’ is rather over the top with its incorporation of both dubstep and goat sounds, its so entertaining it makes up for the lunacy. On the other hand she’s full of praise and love for her husband. Whether or not ‘L8 CMMR’ is intended to be a humorous inversion of ‘Not Fair’ is unclear, but it is a fun and perky electropop tune with an intro startling reminiscent of House of Pain classic ‘Jump Around’. A lot of this record is pretty damn blunt, but when it’s this enjoyable that doesn’t much matter – this is pop music, after all.

Musically, Sheezus is often more laid-back than previous Allen works, but that’s no bad thing. Both ‘Close Your Eyes’ and the album’s big ‘grower’ ballad ‘Our Time’ are cool as a British summer evening with some magnificent melodious choruses, while ‘Air Balloon’ is first-class soaring escapist pop brilliance. The hooks on the record often take time to dig into your mind, but given time prove as fun as anything she’s done previously, and from the R&B weave of ‘Insincerely Yours’ to the surprisingly soul-bearing ‘Take My Place’ this is Lily Allen as good as she’s ever been. Plus if you get a particular edition of the record you get her lovely cover of Keane’s brilliant ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ too (as well as an utterly pointless brief instrumental interlude, the existence of which is an utter mystery).

Yes, there are uses of auto-tune that are completely unnecessary and are nothing but annoying; yes, there are a couple of tracks that never really go anywhere. But in a world of increasingly parodiable mainstream music, Sheezus is a breath of fresh air, a record as effective an analysis of pop culture as it is a set of big songs to sing along to, and a listening experience that gets more enjoyable with every play through. Pop needs people like Allen, even if she doesn’t apparently like the more commercial parts of her own album. Hopefully we won’t need to wait five years for another one.

With any luck reviews like this one will convince her that not everyone on the internet is out to get her…

Rating: 8/10

[Michael Bird]

‘Air Balloon’

‘Sheezus’

Lily Allen

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Lily Allen Announces North American Tour | RichardThinks.Org - May 12, 2014

    […] Lily Allen has announced that she will hit the road in September for her first North American tour in five years. The British pop singer will be touring in support of her new album Sheezus. Check out the tour dates below by clicking, “Continue Reading”. Check out our official review of “Sheezus” at this location. […]

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