Sunday, 1 February 2009

Still Alright

So what do you do with someone like Lily Allen? Actually that’s probably what Keith Allen’s been asking for years but then all this fame-through-the-generations-stuff is part of the problem, innit? So, let’s steer ourselves away from the celeb magazines and put it another way: what do we make of Lily Allen’s music?

This is perhaps an easier question. I did actually buy her 2006 debut ‘Alright Still’ and these were my thoughts at the time, published elsewhere prior to the birth of this blog:

First off, I am not a great reggae/roots/hip-hop fan generally but somehow the melding of styles on this album is very alluring in a light frothy sort of way. Musically, the content veers from pure pop to ska and back but always in a way that makes a cohesive whole. The overriding factor is that the melodies are tuneful and catchy. What’s not to like? At times, Lily comes across as Emma Bunton’s more streetwise sister with a nostalgic 60s vibe and at others, like Neneh Cherry – all attitude and urban sassiness.

But what really appeals to me is the combination of her wispy vocal style and wonderfully poignant lyrics – conjuring the sort of images that all the best English lyricists have managed to evoke from ‘Waterloo Sunset’ to ‘There is a Light That Never Goes Out’ via ‘Our House’. Her little vignettes of love and loss are so real that you can almost touch them.

That was then. Since then the allure has diminished somewhat and a listen to it recently showed that its initial bright frothy appeal has subsided with time like a Starbucks cappo leaving the insubstantial filler revealed. That, coupled to her very public mouthy persona, has soured me a bit and when I heard that a new single, ‘The Fear’, was on the horizon, it didn’t exactly get me salivating.

But, damn me, if one listen to it hasn’t just reversed all that at a stroke. It’s not just the move away from her ska/pop legacy towards a sort of modern electro ballad with a corker of a melody that you just can’t help warming to, it’s also the onslaught of one of those melt-in-the-mouth choruses at regular intervals. The lyrics are a bit too self-reverential for my liking and what once sounded cute now sounds a bit contrived but you can’t have everything.

My spider-sense tells me that the rest of the forthcoming album can’t possibly be this good so I may well make do with a download of this song alone this time around. Nevertheless, Ms Allen has forced her way back into my playlist. How bloody irritating!

I’ll bet Keith knows what I mean.


Charlie said...

I try to find something positive in most music but I find Lily to be totally a waste of time. I like my music to have a little class and her crudeness totally is a put off. Too bad, because I think she has talent. She just needs to redirect it.

musicobsessive said...

Yeah, I agree with you...which is why I feel a bit aggrieved about liking the new single!

Jayne said...

I thought her first couple of singles had charm to them, more so than she herself seems to have, but then again shining a spotlight on me at that age would have been disasterous! I do like your Starbucks cappo analogy.

None of Lily Allen's music has made it to my ipod, but I shall keep this in mind should I stumble upon her new stuff. I should really listen to the radio more (Absolute) and find out some new tunes!

musicobsessive said...

Hi Jayne

'I thought her first couple of singles had charm to them, more so than she herself seems to have'

Very astute! You're quite right, of course, and I think the charm is wearing a bit thin now. Nevertheless, check out 'The Fear' on YouTube (or my sidebar) - it's still a great melody.