A lot has changed for outspoken British pop star Lily Allen since the release of her second album five years ago, having since gained international success and initiated various controversies. While her initial style was known for being simple and relatable, she approaches her newest release, Sheezus, from a slightly different angle, one that takes her music in a new direction and has left me feeling disappointed after the long wait.
As opposed to the ska and alternative sound of her previous records, Allen has gone for a more electronic, ‘contemporary’ sound with Sheezus; however, its attempt at ascribing to current trends misses the mark. The titular song is a clear example of how overproduction can result in a cheap, auto-tuned, electronic mess.
There are a few standouts amid the letdowns: “Air Balloon” is a sublimely happy, tap-your-feet-immediately type of song, “URL Badman” is an interesting and successful exploration in dubstep, and “Close Your Eyes” drips with sonic seduction. What makes these songs impressive is their ability to deal with the everyday in a way that relates to everybody—but this shtick doesn’t work as favourably for the remainder of the album. Lily Allen isn’t a small-time girl anymore; she’s an international superstar—and she knows it—so writing about the music industry and various issues she has with stardom whilst pretending to not be affiliated with it simply doesn’t work. She’s writing about the music industry from inside the music industry, while somehow pretending to be detached and removed from it.
This album had a rocky beginning, both on and off the actual record, from Allen calling her own singles “pop rubbish” to claiming she only made the record to bring her closer to the end of the deal with her record company, then to lackluster live performances and unnecessary name-calling. The confusion behind the scenes have unfortunately filtered down and infiltrated the songs themselves, resulting in a confusing, muted, and bland album. I am all for Lily Allen’s outlandishness—it’s usually brilliant—but this album isn’t.