I really disliked Lily's debut CD as I found it too cutesy for my own liking, and it was even more bewildering when publications like Spin and Blender started giving her four star reviews - it just didn't make sense. But recently, during a first spin of "The Fear", it was evident that the songstress has a certain something that transcends genre and musical definition, and curious as I was, I made it a point to pick up this album.
There are a couple of things to remember while listening to Lily Allen. She is not really a 'singer' in the true sense of the word. She sort of lazily recites words, almost reading them off a page, but her quaint intonation gives them great depth (I am reminded here of Nellie McKay and her epic double-CD "Get Away from Me"). She has this very British quality that brings to mind Leona Naess, and to a lesser extent Natasha Khan of Bat for Lashes.
But its on the melodies and the lyrics that Lily really shines. Her own little view of the world, and primarily of her own self-worth is brought out beautifully through the course of the album - which also works as a 'concept' album in many ways. "The Fear" refers to various things - one could relate the lyrics to consumerism and politics and it would still make sense - but she brings down the house with her quiet burner "Chinese", which is essentially about staying in and eating food, but she spins it as some sort of allegorical tale.
What I especially respect about this album and its production is the fact that you can hear Lily enunciate every word clearly, rendering a lyrics sheet redundant. This is especially rare. The only other performer like this is Fiona Apple, and to a lesser extent Suzanne Vega, but Lily is clearly master of the medium. How great to listen to a song and 'get' every word. A rarity in this day and age of overproduced albums.
This CD is testament that though the UK can produce some truly mass-market nonsense, such as Leona Lewis or Westlife, they can also churn out some truly innovative and groundbreaking artists such as Lily Allen. The only comparable act to her right now in Britain is Girls Aloud, and thats a mighty tall compliment.
An intelligent, beautiful and thought-provoking album.