Something that surprises me is how surprised other people are to learn that I have been a devoted fan of Lily Allen for several years now. OK, I acknowledged months ago that my music collection is dominated by earnest British dudes, but what, I'm not allowed to have nuances and layers?
"I just thought you'd find her a bit...young. And frivolous," one friend said. "I thought I'd be able to convince you eventually that you'd like her, but I never imagined you would've discovered her and grown to like her on your own," another told me.
But I did. I was intrigued by the reviews I read of her first album, Alright, Still--it kept showing up in all these "Top Ten Albums of 2006" lists. So when it was finally released in the US, I bought it, 'cause what the hell else was I going to do with twelve dollars and change?
And I LOVED it. OK, there were a couple of totally stinky songs on it that frankly I prefer not to think about. But overall, the album was so...cheerfully foul-tempered. So seriously frivolous. So innocently filthy. I loved the contradictions.
I would have said that NO ONE could ever improve on the way the Smiths would match really poppy, happy, upbeat music with totally dark lyrics, but Lily is pretty good at it in her own way. "Alfie" is my favorite song on the first album, an aggressively happy, boppy song sung to and about her little brother, Alfie, who sits in his room all day smoking and doing drugs. It has this really annoying grammatical redundancy (my mon frere), but I can forgive that, 'cause I just love the song SO MUCH.
The new album, It's Not Me, It's You came out in February. I was well aware of the release date, though I didn't buy as soon as it was released--I waited until I got my tax return, because there were other things I could do with twelve dollars and change until the check from the feds arrived.
Anyway. INMIY is a consistently stronger album, a less goofy album, a more mature album; I can acknowledge that. But one reason it's stronger, less goofy and more mature is that some of the contradictions that delighted me so on the first album have been uncontradicted. INMIY doesn't charm me the way AS does, though I'm happy to listen to either.
If you aren't already familiar with Ms. Allen's music, might I suggest this unembeddable but still amusing video of LDN in which she rhymes "al fresco" with "Tesco" (a British grocery store, fyi, which makes me wonder: what cool word rhymes with Safeway? Or Wegmans?)
I am a fan of this video, of "Not Fair":
And while I LOVE the song "Fuck You," the official video for it is fairly lame. Much better is this "big fat gay collab":
I hope that if you were not already a fan, you will be after that.