MUSIC REVIEW: Lily Allen

Alright, Still Capitol U.S. release date: Jan. 30, 2007
Music •••• Sound •••½
"When you first left me, I was wanting more / But you were f---ing that girl next door." Not since the Pretenders fired off "Precious" in 1980 has a woman grabbed our attention so immediately in the opening lines of a debut album. The woman here is London's Lily Allen - just 21 but already big enough to be full of sass and vinegar.

It's not just the wannabe prodigal ex-boyfriend of "Smile" who makes her grin with revenge. The ex of "Not Big" is exactly that: "How would it make you feel if I said you never made me come? / . . . Let's see how you feel in a couple of weeks / When I work my way through your mates." And the pubflies of "Knock 'Em Out" get this answer to their pickup lines: "Go away now, let me go / Are you stupid? Or just a little slow? / Go away now, I've made myself clear / Nah, it's not gonna happen, not in a million years."

Allen can be miffed at her own sex, too, as she tells a former "Friend of Mine": "You're just a waste of time, girl / Why don't you have another line, girl." Nor does she spare her own family. What's "Alfie" all about? "My little brother's in his bedroom, smoking weed / I tell him he should get up 'cause it's nearly half past 3 . . . / Get off your lazy arse, Alfie, please use your brain / Surely there's some walls out there that you can go and spray."

Allen is mad at the world, too. In the London of "LDN," she's upset about the ugly underneath. Will someone help a lady with her bags? "A kid came along to offer a hand / But before she had time to accept it / Hits her over the head, doesn't care if she's dead / 'Cause he's got all her jewelry and her wallet." In "Everything's Just Wonderful," it's not, of course: "I wanna get a flat, I know I can't afford it / It's just the bureaucrats who won't give me a mortgage / Well, it's very funny, 'cause I got your f---in' money / And I'm never gonna get it, just because of my bad credit." Sums up Allen: "I wish I could change the ways of the world / Make it a nice place / Until that day, I guess we stay doing what we do / Screwing who we screw."

What can I say? "Lighten up, Lily"? In "Take What You Take," here's what she says the "old" and the "wise" tell her: "A picture paints a thousand words / As one door closes, another door opens / Two wrongs don't make a right / Now, good things come to those who wait / Take the highs with the lows, dear / You'll get what you're given, and everything's gonna be alright." To which Allen replies: "What the f--- do you know?"

All of the above could be tough to take indeed. But here's the kicker: Allen sings so sweetly, and her producers back her with such a tasty ska/reggae/pop soundtrack, that all you'll wanna do is dance.

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