When she first arrived Stateside in a blaze of MySpace-viral glory back in 2006, Brit import Lily Allen seemed like the perfect antidote to America’s vacuous top 40 sausage factory. Her look — candy-colored prom gowns, hightops, and Cockney-from-the-block bling — was as deliciously incongruous as her sound: sunny, ska-flavored ditties about stoned siblings and anatomically inadequate boyfriends.
But as another pop rebel, Cyndi Lauper, once wisely said, money (and fame, and blogs, and tabloids…) changes everything. Behind It’s Not Me, It’s You‘s deceptively breezy melodies, Allen often sounds chastened, introspective, even sad — her subjects now include the dark side of drug use (”Everyone’s at It”), fractured family relationships (”Back to the Start”), and vanishing youth (”22”).
Though the new stuff doesn’t have the immediate sonic dazzle of her debut, Allen hasn’t gone fully Eeyore; even her most wounded musings are paired with serious hooks. And happily, the cheeky minx of yore makes a few cameos: Boys still suck in bed (the galloping, sing-songy ”Not Fair”) and out of it (”Never Gonna Happen,” a charmingly loopy waltz). She pokes excellent fun at her own material-girl id on ”The Fear,” trilling over swirly synths, ”I am a weapon of massive consumption/But it’s not my fault, it’s how I’m programmed to function.” In the end, it’s a tale of two Lilys: the naughty postadolescent in the rearview mirror, and the fully realized female coming around the bend. B+
Download This: Listen to the song ”The Fear” on last.fm