Sound: More techno-oriented and dance-pop and less club-reggae and ska, British singer-songwriter Lily Allen has returned with her sophomore release It's Not Me, It's You from Capitol Records. The brunette lass still has a vocal prowess spawn less from a diva with tantrums and tiaras and more from a minx with working class dreams and unabashed candidness. She resembles Kyle Minogue at times in the delicate twirls that her vocals make along The Fear and the gentle elevations in her vocal hooks through Everyone's At It, but she embodies a bubbly Brit-pop voicing in Not Fair riding along chain-links of freight-train rhythms. The casual canter of her vocal stride along 22 is accentuated with dangling saloon-style keyboards and chorus-line kicks, while the bucolic synth patterns and seraphic violins strewn across I Could Say procure a meditative mood opening the lyrics to reflect over past mistakes.
Glaciers of techno-modulated ringlets layer Back To The Start coved in shuddering dance beats, but it's in Never Gonna Happen where Allen shines prominently as she hangs from a swinging pendulum of ska-based grooves and cabaret-style horns and along the glittering synths of F*&k You which shower the punch in her sass-mouth expletives with sweetness. Allen goes soft and a little balladry in Who'd Have Known, and induces a toasty warmth in her vocals as she cuddles snugly around the melodic curves of Chinese. Her track He Wasn't There has a retro-jazz glow with Chattanooga-styled grooves and a film of static in the background like the kind that vintage vinyl records made when played on a phonograph, but it's the slinky slides of Allen's vocals that give the tune a sultry vibe. // 8
Lyrics: When it comes to the lyrics, Lily Allen has not changed all that much since her debut album Alright, Still. She still mocks society with candid honesty, and she still bares her vulnerability and loves to a fault. Her song I Could Say forces her to face the facts of a relationship where she feels that she must feign her actions, I could say that I'll always be here for you / but that would be a lie and quite a pointless thing to do / I could say that I'll always have feelings for you / But I've got a life ahead of me / I'm only 22 Since you've gone I've lost a chip on my shoulder / Since you've gone I feel like I've grown older / And now you've gone it feels as if the whole wide world is my stage / And now you're gone it's like I've been let out of my cage You always made it clear that you hated my friends / You made me feel so guilty when I was running around with them / And everything was always about being cool / And now I've come to realize there's nothing cool about you at all. The lyrics seem autobiographical and certainly a burden that wants to be lifted off one's shoulders. // 9
Overall Impression: Lily Allen does show more maturity in her songs on It's Not Me, It's You compared to her debut album Alright, Still. On her official website, she reports that she worked in a tiny rented house in England's Cotswolds and at Eagle Rock Studios in Los Angeles for the recording. She wrote and recorded the album's 12-songs with producer Greg Kurstin, who previously collaborated with her on three tracks from her debut record, which included "Everything's Just Wonderful," "Alfie" and "Not Big. The singles from her debut record helped catapult Lily Allen into becoming a household name, and she hopes for a repeat performance. It's Not Me, It's You is not as singular-driven as Alright, Still was, but it's a dance-pop album that is on level with Katy Perry and Kyle Minogue without compromising Allen's particular cabaret-style that folks have come to like about her. // 8