Lily Allen
Sheezus


2.4
average

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
May 7th, 2014 | 35 replies | 7,113 views


Release Date: 05/06/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: More Kim than Kanye.

In a vacuum, Lily Allen taking up the position of matriarchal wiseass in pop music isn’t such a farfetched idea. Blessed with an acerbic wit equally disposed to flaying her own skin as well as all that of all the personalities who frequent the airwaves alongside her, Allen, on a short and sweet run in the ‘00s, turned relative weaknesses (her vocals, that middle finger of a public image) into singular strengths (lyrics skewering pop culture when Lorde was still in primary school, that middle finger of a public image). Allen’s was a persona that was able to live in the same pop stratosphere as Britney and Gaga while cheerfully poking holes in all their fabrications. It was fun, sure, and playful – Allen always made you feel like she was playing a game, eyebrows raised incredulously, and not the other way around – yet the strength of her songwriting assured you that she wasn’t just some subversive outsider gaming the system. After all, 2009’s It’s Not Me, It’s You, which found that sweet spot between typical Lily Allen-isms like “Not Fair” and a pure craftsmanship that felt right at home on the charts, had just as good a claim as its contemporaries for being a modern pop classic.

When Allen took an extended sabbatical from the limelight in order to focus on her family, it left an outspoken hole that Sheezus attempts, from its first few verses, to noisily fill. Calling out everyone from Rihanna to Katy Perry on the title track, Allen announces her intentions with all the subtlety her fans have come to expect from her. Yet the feel of everything rings hollow, Allen’s lyrics a meaningless rant, the song itself less a whip-smart incision into modern radio than an obnoxious call for attention. It’s hard to take “Sheezus” and Sheezus seriously when Allen herself seems so blasé about the whole affair. Her comment that the singles from the record are “docile pop rubbish” doesn’t exactly draw in listeners, never mind that “Hard Out Here” is lyrical marksmanship lacking any particular target and “Air Balloon” is a trite M.I.A. impression. Allen’s (or, more likely, her producers) decision to close out the record with her syrupy cover of Keane’s “Somewhere Only I Know,” a tacked-on holdover from a 2013 Christmas special, is so out of place, not only in the context of Sheezus but also in Allen’s career and personality as a whole, that its placement reeks of laziness. It’s a commercial grab, an easy sticker to attract out-of-the-loop fans that Allen, in a different time and place, would have scoffed at.

The rest of the record isn’t the tragedy haters would like it to be, but Allen’s seeming desire to release an album just for the sake of releasing an album infects what is otherwise a workmanlike, appropriately produced (largely by the increasingly ubiquitous Greg Kurstin) pop record. Aside from the obvious missteps – the dated dubstep rhythm makes Allen’s evisceration of internet trolls on “URL Badman” seem like a meta-troll job on herself – Sheezus unloads its fair share of hooks, and, when Allen is invested, glimpses of a personality not merely going through the motions. “Silver Spoon” is an effectively biting reversal of her childhood privilege, while “L8 CMMR” and “Life For Me” meld easy influences (a touch of Justice and Vampire Weekend, respectively) with the kinds of twists and turns that have made her lyrics and unvarnished personality a trademark. The fact that many of the best songs here – “L8 CMMR,” the self-deprecating realism of “Close Your Eyes” that fits so hilariously with the song’s ‘90s slow jam aesthetic – focus on her now well-settled domestic life is a testament to how Allen can grow as an artist and still retain that vital edge.

Motherhood and a steady relationship fit Allen well, and when she can turn those hyper-specific observations on something she knows well – herself, her family, pop culture – she remains one of the more exciting artists in the pop spectrum. The problem with Sheezus, however, is Allen no longer seems as tuned into pop culture as she once was; or, if she is, she just can’t find it in her to care so much anymore. Too often Allen sings like she’s on the defensive, like she needs to justify her place in the pop realm instead of going on the attack like she used to do so recklessly in the past. The swagger seems forced, and the melodies full of hooks that never really attach themselves to their singer. Sheezus is a thinly constructed veneer, a pastiche of past Allen successes that says a lot but never really moves forward. As a record to remind everyone who she is – Allen has stated that the end goal of Sheezus is to sell “enough [records] so that they’ll pay me to do it again” – it’s a rousing success. As a Lily Allen record, it’s a sneering, vapid imitation: a Lily Allen stereotype. It’s unfortunately just the kind of through-the-motions effort that Allen herself no doubt would have savaged years ago.




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user ratings (47)
Chart.
2.3
average
other reviews of this album
itsnairb (2.5)
Sheezus runs the gamut between the fantastic and the horrible and ends up being decent....

Rick van Veldhuizen (3)
Packing hiphop, trippy pop and a mellowed motherhood into an album that still manages to surprise...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Arcade
Contributing Reviewer
May 7th 2014



1856 Comments


I hate "Hard Out Here" so much. Hardest 1 ever.

good review

Digging: Botch - We Are the Romans

tommygun
May 7th 2014



23582 Comments


will read hope this has jams as hard as LDN

Digging: Obliteration - Black Death Horizon

tommygun
May 7th 2014



23582 Comments


review rules ofc

RadicalEd
May 7th 2014



2553 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

review is great, but I disagree with the idea that Lily allen has every been anything else than bad, she has one of the worst singing voice I've ever heard and her "witty lyrics" always felt mean spirited to me

Digging: Depth Connection - Fever Dreams

Kiran
Emeritus
May 7th 2014



6000 Comments


preach, rudy

Digging: Spoon - They Want My Soul

Chrisjon89
May 7th 2014



3364 Comments


i love Smile. haven't been too impressed with the singles off this one

Digging: Ichiko Aoba - 0%

emester
May 7th 2014



2012 Comments


like that summary. will check this out of morbid curiosity

Digging: Slugdge - Gastronomicon

Arcade
Contributing Reviewer
May 7th 2014



1856 Comments


The sound of a chav discovering people want to hear her working class caricature and inane social life

chambered99
May 7th 2014



780 Comments


lily allen is baaaaaddd

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
May 7th 2014



3342 Comments


absolutely sweet review

JViney
Staff Reviewer
May 7th 2014



322 Comments


Only just started the second song on this and I fucking hate it already.

klap
Staff Reviewer
May 7th 2014



10258 Comments

Album Rating: 2.4

i will stand by my assertion that It's Not Me, It's You is an excellent record re radicaled

Digging: The Bilinda Butchers - Heaven

Azn.
May 7th 2014



5561 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

dat summary

Digging: Trophy Scars - Never Born, Never Dead

treefingered2
May 7th 2014



150 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

well nice review but I would not hav been this harsh on the album

Digging: Bad Brains - Bad Brains

RadicalEd
May 7th 2014



2553 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

"i will stand by my assertion that It's Not Me, It's You is an excellent record re radicaled"

ye opinions, everybody has got one.

simpleanguish
May 7th 2014



49 Comments


used to like this bitch but the singles off this were terrible

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
May 7th 2014



17920 Comments


it's not me it's you is an awesome album

not gonna listen to this though because rudy knows all

danielito19
May 7th 2014



4359 Comments


is there anything in this vein worth listening to klap

klap
Staff Reviewer
May 7th 2014



10258 Comments

Album Rating: 2.4

from this album? or in general. i'd definitely get the record before this

danielito19
May 7th 2014



4359 Comments


like, this style of music, i mean. will listen after i finish whatever death metal thing someone reced me



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