Lily Allen - Sheezus
Record Label: Warner Bros.
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Five years removed from retiring from music to focus on motherhood/married life, Britain’s sharp-tongued provocateur returns with Sheezus, a snarky, hook-filled romp with armfuls of bluster, moxie and melody. Did you expect anything less?
The disc opens with the defiant title track, which knocks down Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Rihanna, to name a few. Make no mistake, Lily is back and in a big way. For much of her career, she’s made pay dirt out of crafting her quasi-Cockney accent into witty wordplay and crazy-good choruses and those hallmarks are front and center on “Sheezus.” Ditto for “L8 CMMR,” the doe-eyed valentine to her husband and the buttery and breezy first single “Air Balloon.” The latter is a charming slice of ridiculously catchy radio pop that goes down easy and lingers long after its done. Already three songs in and she already has three proverbial chart-toppers. That trend continues on “Our Time,” arguably the weakest of the first four but still engaging enough to draw the masses.
The disc’s first half concludes with “Insincerely Yours” and “Take My Place.” The former is a laid back stab at the British press that slithers along with virginal simplicity but packs a sardonic wallop in its tone and message. It’s Lily at her most cunning and also her very best. “Take My Place” on the other hand is a generic and bland ballad that finds Allen at odds with her own psyche and tries its hardest to be earnest. Though it’s not a total disaster it feels too forced and probably should have been cut.
Side B open with “As Long as I Get You,” a cheery, accordion-laced love letter to her husband that is heart-sleeve 101 and mildly appealing. While it’s less forced than its predecessor, there’s still a wonder as to how and why it made the final cut. She returns to form on “Close Your Eyes,” a honeyed, sex romp that revisits much of the same vibe as “Insincerely Yours.” At its core, Allen’s music is extremely breezy and nowhere is that more apparent than on “Close Your Eyes.” Arguably the best song on the disc’s second act is “URL Badman,” a cheeky, kiss-off to Internet lowlifes and the catty nature of the blogosphere. There’s no doubt that when Allen wants to make a point, she does it about as well as anyone and “URL Badman” is proof. The song enters EDM territory in the latter stages and while that blurs the song’s sonic edges somewhat, it doesn’t exactly destroy it either.
Allen completely dissolves into redundancy on “Silver Spoon,” a self-affirming tonic to her own inner fortitude that has little if any lasting power. The derivative blandness of “Take My Place” returns on “Life for Me,” a mildly affecting paean to the contentedness of being a mother. Allen has gone on record as calling her two children the greatest achievement of her life and “Life for Me,” is proof of that. And yet as much Allen loves being a mother, she also loves pushing buttons. Fittingly, she closes up Sheezus with “Hard Out Here,” a punchy testament to her rabble rousing that mines the same sonic terrain as “L8 CMMR.” After 80 seconds of sonic ambience, she returns on bonus track “Somewhere Only We Know,” a sterling cover of Keane’s ubiquitous hit that Allen released as a single in 2013. Though simple piano-pop is probably not her bag, she pulls the cover of so effortlessly, one has to wonder if its something she’d consider pursuing on future efforts.
Allen is blessed with an inherent charisma that makes you like almost anything she sings. Even when you can’t stand her, you still find yourself humming along. Be it the accent, the hooks, or the words, there’s an effervescence that makes her songs so darn charming. While there’s a healthy dose of filler on Sheezus, there’s still plenty of charmers. Though it’s not nearly as strong as its predecessors, it’s the start of a comeback. Who the heck knows where she’ll go from here.
Hated it at first but the more I listen to it the more I enjoy it. Some of the songs are still unbearable but the beats are great. Loving URL Badman & the Jackson 5 sounding As Long As I Got You. Don't fully agree with your review, I can't stand L8 CMMR, Sheezus has grown on me, & so has Hard Out Here. Good review though.
How many of the songs on here are complete rip-offs of other acts out there? The only two tracks I have heard ("Sheezus" and "Hard Out Here") sound like a Sleigh Bells/Katy Perry "Dark Horse" mashup and Marina & the Diamond's "Oh No!", respectively. Pretty much turned me off from the jump to give this a fair listen, and wasn't very impressed with either song as it were.
I've enjoyed Lilly's past work but she's totally put me off her with this era. It's all very unremarkable and she doesn't have the likability for me to give her a pass. I'll still be curious what she does in the future as I am with most of the popstars, but I'm not really checking for her like before.