Was The Fear the most hypocritical single since Michael Jackson’s Black Or White? The first taste of Lily Allen’s long-awaited second album, it breezed along with eyebrows arched at fame-hungry celebrities, hinting at a creeping element of self-loathing. Allen has, after all, spent the past three years being Minnie The Minx for the gossip rags.
It’s a fair example of the wider It’s Not Me experience, where every lyric is either a cry for help, a Dear Diary entry or a sermon. Everyone’s At It sees Lily railing against her own narcotic habits and the hypocrisy of our attitude to prescription drugs, It’s Not Fair condemns a selfish lover and 22 concerns a girl in her late 20s whose “life is already over,” according to, like, “society”. Him, meanwhile, ponders the existence of God. “His favourite band is Creedence Clearwater Revival,” it says, oddly.
There’s plenty of weird shit where that came from. Not Fair is a rolling cowgirl stomp, Never Gonna Happen sounds like a bad night at an Eastern European circus and Who’d Have Known rips its entire chorus from Take That’s Smile. And that’s not to mention the chirpy, Bacharach-esque ditty called Fuck You.
It’s a darker Lily than that of Alright, Still, then; depressed at times, defiant at others, and gobbier than ever. But this is a lush, poppy, clever and – most importantly – fun album. Enjoy it, but be a bit worried about her too. (7) DAN STUBBS