Lily in the pink

Lily Allen’s new al­bum might be ther­a­peu­tic for her, but we all feel the ben­e­fit

Esquire (UK) - - Culture -

We all know that as mu­si­cians get suc­cess­ful, their well of ex­pe­ri­en­tial in­spi­ra­tion starts to dry up: no one ever wrote a good song about the dif­fi­cul­ties of find­ing a re­li­able pool boy. But if Lily Allen ever feared she’d be short of ma­te­rial af­ter her 2006 de­but al­bum, Al­right, Still, which sold 2.5m copies, hur­tled her into the na­tion’s con­scious­ness and has kept her there more or less ever since, then her new­est al­bum, No Shame, finds her with sub­ject mat­ter to spare.

She’s had kids, got di­vorced, and even had to deal with a break-in by a stalker, but Allen’s gift, as it has al­ways been, is not for blus­ter­ing, gothic nar­ra­tives but ex­plor­ing the cu­ri­ously quo­tid­ian. And so there’s “Ap­ples”, a painfully spare ac­count of the break­down of her mar­riage, or “Three”, in which she imag­ines how her young daugh­ter would have felt at the time (it also con­tains the world’s first lyri­cal us­age of “pa­pier-mâché fish”). Kitchen sink never sounded so sweet.

But de­spite the do­mes­tic strife that oc­cu­pies her con­science, Allen is still a ma­jor mu­si­cal player, as she proves by call­ing upon both old hands, like Mark Ron­son who pro­duces two tracks, and Vam­pire Week­end’s Ezra Koenig, who writes and co-pro­duces another, and also new col­lab­o­ra­tors to en­sure her sound stays fresh. Her catchy come­back sin­gle “Trig­ger Bang” fea­tured Giggs, and airy num­ber “Higher”, co-writ­ten with her boyfriend grime MC Merid­ian Dan (he of “Ger­man Whip”), is another high­light.

More than any­thing, though, the ap­peal of No Shame is Allen’s own per­son­al­ity, which pushes through the al­bum with unashamed, un­com­pro­mis­ing verve (though her voice is also un­der­rated — her flut­tery top notes are as pretty as Joni Mitchell’s). It might not make her the eas­i­est per­son to live with, as she’d prob­a­bly be the first to ad­mit, but it makes her a valu­able pres­ence in to­day’s mu­sic pan­theon and this a wel­come re­turn.

No Shame is out on 8 June (Poly­dor)

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