Embattled pop star returns to form.
Hard times often produce great art, as the embattled pop star proves on an emphatic return to form.
NO SHAME PARLOPHONE, OUT 8 JUNE
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. ★★★★
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.”