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Lily Allen takes swings at pop stardom with 'Sheezus'.


Lily Allen

Warner Brothers

Lily Allen is certainly a dilly, in the truest sense of the word.

With her bohemian fashion sense, dysfunctional girl-next-door innocence and hooligan wickedness, the 29-year-old British pop star shows plenty of sass and a salty sailor's mouth as she tries to make sense of love, lust and everything between.

This high school dropout, ex-Ecstasy dealer and MySpace darling from Hammersmith, England, is the kind of girl who, if you did her wrong, would kick you in the teeth while singing a happy tune. Her often-misleading, arsenic-laced bubblegum pop ditties show more brass and brain than most of her contemporaries, making the listener bounce along without realizing how stinging the songs are. Allen is slated to perform Sept. 30 at the House of Blues, Boston.

Allen comes out swinging at some of her pop rivals on the tongue-in-cheek title track, "Sheezus,'' talking trash and sliding in backhanded compliments on her contemporaries, particularly Kanye West, whose sixth album was called "Yeezus'' -- get it? -- mocking, "Riri (aka Rihanna) isn't scared of Katy Perry's roaring/Queen B's (as in Beyonce's) going back to the drawing.../We're all watching Gaga's LOL like haha/Dying for the art, so really she's a martyr/Second best will never cut it for the divas/Give me that crown (expletive)/I wanna be Sheezus.'' Allen does find time to praise one artist: Lorde, the teen phenom-turned-overnight pop sensation who has received accolades from the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Foo Fighters' David Grohl.

Allen praises her man's stamina in the bedroom on "L8 CMMR.'' While Allen lacks some of the social graces, she knows how to whimsically throw a series of thinly veiled sexual innuendos that could stroke any man's ego.

It's up, up and away on "Air Balloon,'' a playful and cheeky track that finds our unorthodox diva taking off to the friendly skies in a dirigible. But even when she's innocently fantasizing, Allen's critical mind is working, as evident in the Nirvana-deflating line, "I don't like dropping names but Kurt Cobain's all in my face/How the hell am I going to tell him/ Elvis already took first base.''

For someone making the bold declaration that "We're gonna party like it's nobody business,'' the anemic party anthem "Our Time'' is as upbeat as a going out of business sale. I don't think this track could go any dumber. Allen's whispery delivery alongside a wishy-washy mix of ticking percussion and smoldering synths makes her sound like she's ready for nap-time, not a second-wind. It is so bad, even Miley Cyrus would have reservations about recording it.

The bile-spewing continues on the salacious name-dropper, "Insincerely Yours.'' After lashing out at British models Cara Delevigne, Rita Ora and Jourdan Dunn, Allen blows the lid off high-profile artists who sell out their artistic integrity to play rich people's private functions for a hefty paycheck. Allen lays it all on the line in the direct but biting admission, "Let's be clear/I'm here, here to make money, money, money/Insincere, insincerely yours tonight.'' Let's see Sir Elton or J-Lo be bold enough to say that.

The album's mushiest track is also the most infectious. "As Long As I Got You'' is candid and confectionary (in a good way) as it captures the giddiness and goofiness that come hand-in-hand with amour, accompanied by a lively possession of feisty accordion, shuffling acoustic guitar, percolating bass lines and stomping drumbeats.

"URL Badman'' is the Brit-pop equivalent to Eminem's "Stan.'' But instead of delving into a psyche of a psychotic fan, Allen gets in the head of a maladjusted cyber-bullying critic who still lives in his parents' basement. With a snarling rhythm emphasizing his increasing mood swings, Allen chillingly reveals, "I'm a London white boy rapping ATL/Keyboard warrior that can't spell/I don't like you, I think you're worthless/I wrote a big piece about it up on my word press.''

Allen skewers the double-standard that makes a man a stud and a woman a slut on "Hard Out There.'' In addition to turning the table on male/female stereotypes, Allen transforms a derogatory term for a woman and turns it into a cathartic mantra and badge of honor. Good for her.

After spewing several stinging tirades, Allen ends on a sappy note with "Somewhere Only We Know.'' Even the title of the song sounds like it could use a squeegee to get rid of the sudsy residue.

This is Allen sounding her most girlie on the album, but Allen is better off sticking to the bile and avoiding the banal.

You can contact Craig S. Semon at Follow him at Twitter @CraigSemon
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Title Annotation:Living
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jun 5, 2014
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