IT’S NOT ME, IT’S YOU
El•ec•tro \ i-lek-troh \ adj + pop \päp\n
Earlier this year Dialogue Incorporated did a special Chicago music showcase at a local music venue here in the city. While I was setting everything up for the night there was a teenie bopper birthday party that was winding down. Surrounded by about a dozen 16-year old girls restlessly skipping through song after song on an ipod, I was taken by surprise when they finally settled on “Alfie” from pop tart Lily Allen. I forget now how I originally came on to Lily Allen. I’ve already mentioned my high school days penchant for ska music so, regardless of when I first heard Alright, Still - Lily’s first album, I admit that I liked it. I guess the intellectual side of my brain is telling me I’m not supposed to like pure fuck-off teen pop, but, there’s something to be said for the carefree bounce and bright horns that ska offers. There’s also something to be said for Lily Allen’s unabashed style of song writing so it should have come as no surprise to me that these girls would love her music too. I guess I just didn’t think that, being a UK export, she could have so successfully infiltrated mid-western America’s teenage music scene. Fast forward 3 weeks and it’s not so great of a shock now to see that, with the release of her second album It’s Not Me, It’s You, she’s instantly regained her chart topping status in the UK and is quickly climbing the ranks here in the US. On this sophomore outing its apparent that she’s grown up a little – but not too much. Allen takes her “tell it like it is” attitude and applies it to the larger social realm and, although a bit clichéd, its done in Allen’s own forgivably charming way. Over the course she tackles an absent father, 3-minute men, drugged up youth, celebrity materialism, GW, and God. Weighty lyrical topics indeed. Given the Lily Allen spin it may not be the most enlightening listen but at least the girl’s intentions are spot on. Charging forward with her post-feminist feminism, as it was dubbed by The Guardian, her breadth of subject matter is matched by equally varied musical stylings. Backed exclusively by The Bird & The Bee producer extraordinaire Greg Kurstin, Its Not Me… forgoes its ska filled predecessor, preferring to explore electro crunch, dubstep sub bass, rockabilly bounce, klezmer, dusty swing, and, of course, pure piano driven pop. The diversity provides endless color and a few real winners on the singles front, most notably the alt country electronics of “Not Fair” and the shimmering punch of lead single “The Fear”. Obviously its not an album that goes fathoms deep but maybe that’s not the point. For all the criticism about her clichéd musings on societal issues, in this pop world we’re living in, tell me we’re not better off with the delightfully amusing and genuine ms. Allen at the top of the charts than we are with, say, Lady Gaga.
- Joshua P. Ferguson