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Album review: Lily Allen - Sheezus

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4/5

Lily Allen is back in the game with her third studio album Sheezus. She has succeeded in showing development from her previous effort It’s Not Me, It’s You, whilst still keeping her trademark bite. 

Lily Allen - SheezusThe record is an eclectic one. Allen merges genres, yet remains within the pop spectrum, alongside making comments that are not unusual topics in the current social climate, but addressing them in true Allen style - no holding back. Sheezus is a more than simply a hard-hitting pop record.

Title track ‘Sheezus’ opens the record, and with a backing track of Allen’s programmed ‘ha-ha’s it sets a perfect foundation for the record as a whole.

Since releasing the track last week, Allen has been slating on certain online outlets for contradicting the feminism that ‘Hard Out Here’ presented. I have to completely disagree here and argue that they are missing the point entirely.

Yes, Allen name checks ‘Ri-Ri’, Katy Perry, Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Lorde, but not in a way that suggests they are bad at what they do. She commends Lorde for her blood thirst in being the best, this isn’t damning, this is empowering, as Lily herself stated, she wants ‘all of them to be Sheezus.’ 

The lyric, ‘Ri-Ri isn’t scared of Katy Perry’s roaring’, perfectly demonstrates the pressure put on female solo artists to compete with one another, yet this is exactly what Allen is critiquing in the track. People who are saying Allen’s argument is dissing the others, are missing her wit. She is encompassing the war-zone that pop music has become, the battle for chart success pitting every musician, let alone female pop star, against each other. It is built to offend, but why would Allen do anything else? 

Not all of the album is about kicking sexism’s arse, although she does do this brilliantly, Allen also gets sentimental about her husband on tracks such as ‘L8 Cmmr’ and ‘As Long As I Got You’ with the former boasting about his sexual prowess.

The sickly sweet pop chorus matches the vibe of the track perfectly, however, this track still shows Allen’s trademark bite, but this time with the protectiveness of her husband. “He’s going nowhere until this fat lady sings”, croons Allen, not so subtly addressing the jibes in the press about her weight gain. 

Apart from title track ‘Sheezus’ and ‘Hard Out Here’ the songs we have already heard from the record are in fact the most tedious. Don’t get me wrong, ‘Air Balloon’ and ‘Our Time’ are popular and will continue to be, but I would argue that the album tracks are where Allen shows her true best.

The tracks she has previously released are commercially great pop songs, yet they don’t pack as hard a punch as tracks such as ‘URL Badman’. It addresses a very current situation in the cyber world, a topic that all of us have been victim of at some point - internet trolling. You all know that person that will spend more time on their snarling, politically infused, putting-the-world-to-rights comments, than they do outside of their bedroom in the real world. Allen encapsulates this with her up to date addressing of the outlets these trolls aim for their in their ‘journalistic’ attempts. 

‘Insincerely Yours’ is one of the best on the record. Harking back to the ‘The Fear’ in its commentary of celebrity culture but this time, from an insider perspective, its Californian G-funk vibes show the record’s eclectic mixing of genres and its lyrics address the insincere niceness of everyone in the celebrity world. Allen boldly confesses: “Let’s be clear. I’m here to make money”, damning the celebrities we all question: “Do you know her name? Do you really care?”

At times Allen uses unnecessary auto-tune, for example in ‘Close Your Eyes’, an interesting track with its groovy 90s RnB vibe.

However, in my opinion, and I truly hope this is the case, this auto-tune is alluding to Yeezus himself, circa 808s and Heartbreaks, with this idea being reinforced by the auto-tuned laughter that closes the track. A subtle reference to Kanye had to happen, and Allen has done it superbly.

Sheezus is a great mix of Allen’s trademark hard-hitting commentary, alongside personal lyricism about motherhood and married life, as seen in ‘Life For Me’ and finishing with ‘Hard Out Here’, the track that, so gladly, truly broke Allen’s retirement from music.

As Allen said to Chris Evans in an interview on BBC2, she didn't want people to think she had got old and borning when 'Somewhere Only We Know' surfaced on the John Lewis advert.

'Hard Out Here' was the true comeback of Lily Allen, with Sheezus being an extension of the same message. This record reveals more than any interview could in the way that this is Lily’s way of saying things.

Not re-worked by journalists, Allen has creative control over this record and the message it portrays. This makes Sheezus the record it is, and it is a damn good one at that.




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