Lily Allen | It's Not Me, It's You

Capitol (2009)
By FRANKLIN SOULTS  |  February 9, 2009
3.0 3.0 Stars

On her 2007 debut, this young British MySpace sensation came across like that rare thing — a natural. Her knack for catchy tunes was unhampered by her inability to play an instrument; her matter-of-fact sass was unchecked by feminine conventions that the riot grrrls were tearing down when Lily was in Pull-Ups.

Her quintessential Englishness was heightened by producers who exploited the music-hall-to-ska tradition of clever cockney bastards from Ian Dury to the Specials to the Streets. Each was huge in England, Allen included. Stateside, not so much. Attempting to breach that cultural chasm, she now fakes it as blatantly as Amy Winehouse. Instead of reconstructing old soul, Allen manufactures new pop as electronic, shimmery, and rootless as Kylie Minogue's.

Still blessed with cleverness, tunes, sass, and youth, she generally pulls it off, especially on the opening anti-drug alarm "Everyone's at It," the anti-materialist rumination "The Fear" ("I am a weapon of massive consumption"), and the cheerful kiss-off to George Bush and others, "Fuck You." But on the love songs to an ambivalent daddy figure on the second half (these include one to the ambivalent Daddy in the sky), she often sounds generically young. No less catchy, though, and sometimes quite touching.
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