In bloom

Lily Allen re­turns with her strong­est al­bum yet.

Elle (Canada) - - Radar -

harp mu­sic tin­kles through the read­ing room at Clar­idge’s, Lon­don’s grande-dame ho­tel. Pink bub­bles and fin­ger-cut sand­wiches sur­round singer-song­writer Lily Allen (daugh­ter of Bri­tish ac­tor Keith Allen), who has sold mil­lions of al­bums and works with Sir El­ton John. It’s quite fit­ting. The 29-year-old has checked in as “Betty But­tons” and looks like a young Au­drey Hep­burn: All smiles, she’s wear­ing leg­gings with turquoise slip­pers, and her hair is in a pony­tail fas­tened with a black bar­rette. She seems a bit tired as she checks her cell­phone for mes­sages from her hus­band—builder and dec­o­ra­tor Sam Cooper—to make sure that ev­ery­thing is fine at home. Yet the for­mer en­fant ter­ri­ble is as en­ter­tain­ing and witty as you’d ex­pect from some­one who has named her third al­bum Sheezus.

While you were tak­ing a break, pop mu­sic changed: It’s sex­ier. How do you fit in now? Do you com­pete with the

Lady Ga­gas and Katy Per­rys of the world? “I’m not try­ing to com­pete with any­body. And ac­tu­ally that’s what the song ‘Sheezus’ is all about. The whole point of cre­at­ing mu­sic is that there isn’t a com­pet­i­tive side to it. [Laughs] This idea that all women hate each other and are in com­pe­ti­tion with each other must sell news­pa­pers. But I’ve never walked back­stage at an awards show and spat at some­body else’s dress­ing-room door.” So why Sheezus? Is that a spoof on Kanye West? “It’s a spoof, but it’s not be­ing neg­a­tive in any way. I re­ally ad­mire him, and I re­spect what he stands for—that he is hon­est, says what he feels and wears his heart on his sleeve. That’s more than most people in this busi­ness do. To me, that’s what makes him ‘Yeezus.’ And if he’s ‘Yeezus,’ I’d like to be ‘Sheezus.’”

We need to talk about “Close Your Eyes,” though. It’s sexy! Do you ever, as the song im­plies, pre­tend to be Bey­oncé?

“I’ve never done it, but I guess the song is a bit fan­tas­ti­cal. In the first few months af­ter you have chil­dren, it be­comes quite dif­fi­cult to re­con­nect with the sex­ier side of yourself. And so that’s kind of what that song is about. It’s try­ing to re­con­nect.” [Laughs] Has be­com­ing a par­ent changed your per­spec­tive? “My drive is com­pletely dif­fer­ent. When I wake up in the morn­ing, my chil­dren are the first thing I think about—mainly be­cause they have wo­ken me up! It’s like my life has been turned com­pletely upside down for the bet­ter. I’m less self­ish, and things have a lit­tle more mean­ing and depth all of a sud­den. I’m not say­ing this is the same for ev­ery­body, but that’s the ef­fect it has had on my life. I don’t know if I want more chil­dren, though. I don’t know if I would be able to cope with more. Es­pe­cially boys. I mean, if they got their mom’s tem­per in a male body, that would be a nightmare, wouldn’t it?” [Laughs]

I heard you got bored at home with your girls and that’s what made you re­turn to mu­sic.

“It was re­ally hard— spend­ing all day, ev­ery day, with two hu­man be­ings who can’t com­mu­ni­cate with you. And for some­one like me— when my whole ex­is­tence is about com­mu­ni­cat­ing and re­sponse—it was quite frus­trat­ing. I felt like I needed to get out and do some­thing else with my time. But now that the old­est one is talk­ing, I feel like I’m miss­ing stuff be­cause I’m not there to see it all. So, that’s painful too. [Laughs] But you can’t have it all.” Mar­cel An­ders

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