I'm a stuffy old codger who couldn't stand Lily Allen when she first elbowed her way into the spot light from the ghettoes of Hammersmith and private schools. She seemed far too perky and rude to appeal to me and so I dismissed her from my thoughts and ears for a long time.
Unfortunately I did this before I'd actually listened to any of her songs, and so I shall take this opportunity to apologise whole-heartedly for my prejudices and hope these five orange stars make up for it somewhat.
And now that I have listened, I think all her songs are deliciously perky and rude and tongue-in-cheek and serious and fantastic. Each one different, but each bearing her very distinctive style.
She's a product of today's society no doubt, swearing, leering and pseudo-celebrity-common, but she swears so well and leers so prettily that she makes today's society seem rather big and rather clever.
I am so excited this day has finally come. Lily Allen has been storming her way through the world of Myspace for YONKS!. Finally, the thousands of die-hard fans out there can get their hands on this truly amazing girls work.
For anyone who missed the hype, think of this; Mike Skinner, with a damn good voice, which is mixed with poppy lilting ska melodies, combined with fantastic drum beat sections, added to a huge wave of fantastically honest and frank lyrics and mixed with a bit of attitude- and you have yourself Lily Allen!
As everyone and everything is saying, finally, a gal with some attitude! Lily is the first lady since, well the Spice Girls I guess(!), to rampage her way onto the music scene with a fistful of anger and a handful of bite! A girl with spirit! She should make it on that alone... if flimsy little Rachael Stevens can make it, Lily can too!
Aside from this, it must be taken into account (and this, I consider, a highly important factor) that she is a brilliant performer. Sure, stick anyone who can knock out an alright tune in a record booth these days and you have a star- but I feel that Lily's proved herself to be fantastic in every shape and form.
The album contains some of the most fantastic debut material I have ever heard. Of course, there is the hit single "Smile" and her first single "LDN", both (as you must know) brilliant and addictive tracks. Along with this there are the much played Myspace songs "Can't Knock `Em Out" - a catchy little ditty with a lyrical story to die for, "Littlest Things" - a sweet song which has the most modern view on romance I have heard in a ballad in a while, "Alfie" - a absolutely amazing ska pop track with lyrics which had me laughing myself something silly and "Everything's Just Wonderful" - a funky hip-hoppy track which will get your toes tapping!
On top of this, there are tracks like "Friday Night" and "Take What You Take" which are both brilliant songs with a great melody's and a fab drum sections.
This album is truly something special, I think there is something on here to appeal to almost anyone - even if its just the cheeky lyrical genius of this girl.
I bought this import version of the wonderful album from Lily Allen because it has a few extra tracks, however, please note that its a CLEAN lyric version - i.e all the 'F' words are faded out ! The Smile remix is not bad, and Nan You're A Window Shopper is OK (available as a B side on one of her singles)
Lily Allen looks, acts and sings in what should rightly be an extremely annoying way. Yet somehow the songs and melodies and a bit of charm from Ms Allen mean that she actually pulls this off somehow. This is perfect summer music for listening to in the garden with a few beers and a barbie. I'm not sure it's a style with much longevity, and it's hard to see what direction Lily Allen will have to go in to keep her career going, but as debuts go this is very enjoyable stuff. It's got that Finley Quaye feel about it, so it could well be forgotten about in 2 years time.
First of all, I should point out that yes, while Lily does talk with a 'posh' accent and sing in a 'chav' accent, and her music is quite 'chavvish' in flavour, I sincerely doubt that it's a move to sell records. I suspect it's simply the sort of music she is into, and if we all went by that argument, then we should also lambast the likes of Eric Clapton for playing 'black' music, and so forth.
Onto the album - while most of the single pulls are reggae-flavoured (Smile, LDN), there is also straightforward pop (Everything's Just Wonderful, Alfie), although Lily's delivery is far from sugar-coated. Her lovely soft voice weaves effortlessly through the music and her sense of rhyming and timing are inspired at times. The album does come with a Parental Guidance sticker for a reason, though - Lily has slipped in the odd swear word in just about every song, or a reference to sex, so while the cursing isn't constant, be warned that the c-word does crop up, as does the t-word in Alfie and in both cases you get the feeling that Lily slipped them in because she finds it funny and could have easily left them out.
Subject matter seems to be split fairly equally between wry observations of the world around her (Friday Night, Knock 'Em Out) and digs at her ex-boyfriends (Smile, Not Big). Each song is varied and strong enough to stand out from the one that comes before. My personal favourites are Knock 'Em Out with its stuttering drumbeat (about unwanted attention from undesirables), Everything's Just Wonderful (a well-written anthem about the burdens of most young people these days) and Friend Of Mine, although I think that just abut every song on here is a winner. However, Take What You Take is an awful pop-by-numbers song which should have been left off in favour of the far more superior B-side Nan, You're A Window Shopper.
I believe that this is a fine album and one that proves Lily Allen to be a consummate songwriter and singer.
It's clever, contemporary and coarse, but where does Lily Allen's debut album fit in? My over-riding irritation wasn't the music but the poor recording standard - it was 'over-blown' which makes it sound loud when it's not, and makes it near impossible to actually turn up the volume because it sounds as if the speakers will be damaged. I guess that's not the performer's fault (is it?) but it was a severe distraction for me. Other than that there was a hint of Gwen Stefani about the lyrics, albeit London-ified, and if truth be told without some of the American girl's real singing ability.
I think you either like Lily Allen or you don't, and I can understand both sides. Favourite track: Littlest Things. She's different, but I can't help but feel that Amy Winehouse has done a much better job of turning urban angst and personal issues into songs that stand up on their own whether you actually listen to the words or not. It's a different style, of course, but there's a rawness that Amy can call upon if she wants to that - in my humble opinion - isn't in Lily's locker. Sharp-witted and observant? Yes. Will I be listening to it a few years from now? I doubt it.