Em­bat­tled pop star re­turns to form.

Q (UK) - - Contents - VIC­TO­RIA SE­GAL

Hard times of­ten pro­duce great art, as the em­bat­tled pop star proves on an em­phatic re­turn to form.


On the list of pop star trans­gres­sions, writ­ing songs about your kids is just be­neath play­ing pri­vate shows for oli­garchs. Three should be in­tol­er­a­ble, then: not only a pi­ano bal­lad, but one Lily Allen has writ­ten from a child’s perspective (“Stay here with me”). That it’s one of the most af­fect­ing mo­ments on her fourth al­bum un­der­lines some­thing that’s been clear since Allen made her 2006 MyS­pace de­but, that the rules don’t quite ap­ply to her. Un­abashedly vul­ner­a­ble, No Shame was writ­ten af­ter Allen’s di­vorce from the father of her two daughters. The ti­tle re­claims a de­trac­tor’s tut­ting ac­cu­sa­tion: there’s no shame in get­ting it wrong, be­ing lonely, try­ing to make it better. Open­ing track Come On Then sug­gests she’s snap­ping into the de­fen­sive stance that made 2014’ s Sheezus tir­ing (“I’m a bad mother/I’m a bad wife/You saw it on the so­cials/You read it on­line”) but she re­sists, look­ing at her life with a steady gaze. These songs feel min­i­mal, airy, full of space – per­haps too much space, too much empti­ness. Trigger Bang, fea­tur­ing Giggs, de­scribes hid­ing away from old temp­ta­tions and would be per­fect euphoric pop were it not for the deep sad­ness rip­pling through it. Not ev­ery­thing sounds so bro­ken: My One, a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Mark Ron­son and Vam­pire Week­end’s Ezra Koenig, is a shiny mod­ernist love song that be­gins: “Baby, I’ve fucked half the boys in Paris.” She can still be funny through the heart­break. Amid the me­dia static and ag­gro on “the so­cials”, No Shame is a re­minder that this is what Allen does, and she does it very well. ★★★★

Listen To:

Trigger Bang | My One | Three

These songs feel full of space – per­haps too much empti­ness.

Lily Allen: “she can still be funny through the heart­break.”

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