Being, as she is, the daughter of prominent British actor Keith Allen, the cynics could easily dismiss the rise of Lily Allen as an act of backroom nepotism, talent-free starlet helped to the stage by the right connections. One listen to her debut album Alright, Still
, dispels any doubts about young Ms Allens star quality. Possessed of a feisty wit and taste for urban storytelling that should see her compared to Mike "The Streets" Skinner, these eleven tracks of sunshine-friendly reggae pop cover topics including frustrating potential closing-time suitors ("Knock Em Out"), being happy when your ex is having a bad time ("Smile"), and having a little brother who likes a bit of a smoke--and not just of the tobacco variety ("Alfie"). Wisely, however, Allen doesnt let the grittiness of the subject matter tarnish the golden pop suss of the songs, a suite of gleaming productions by names including Mark Ronson and Gwen Stefani collaborator Greg Kurstin that take inspiration from at the lighter end of reggae and vintage rocksteady. Doubtless some corners of the press will pillory her as a poor role model, but theres an engaging honesty to the likes of "LDN" - a love song to a city filled with teenage muggers, pimps and crackwhores, narrated by someone whos cycling because "the filth took away my license". Like father, like daughter .--Louis Pattison
Lily Allen: her of heart-shaped earrings, fluorescent eye liner and summer anthem "Smile", has created a neat, cohesive debut, describing urban life from the clever girl's perspective. The cockney accent and little melodies will invite comparison to chavvy soul-brother Mike Skinner, but these are songs in a completely different league: laugh out loud funny, clever, and satisfyingly vengeful.
We're talking about bad credit ratings, unattractive coke abuse, unwanted chat ups, useless lovers and colourful nightclub politics, like "Friday Night", set to a backing reminiscent of the Specials' "Ghost Town". This girl's far too smart for the crappy nights out, rubbish mates and loser exes she wryly describes.
Many of her reggae-fused songs stick in your head whilst you desperately suss out why they're familiar, but she rips off her influences with a comic acknowledgement, like "Shame For You", which blatantly lifts the chorus hook from "You Don't Love Me (No No No)" by Dawn Penn. I'm just sad that her song about her nanna being covered in cat hair didn't make it. Maybe on the follow up ... --Lucy Davies
Find more music at the BBC This link will take you off Amazon in a new window