Lily Allen was once a good pop star. Her debut Alright, Still was cheeky in a girls smoking behind the bike shed kind of way, and its follow up It’s Not Me It’s You produced ‘The Fear’ and ‘It’s Not Fair’: arguably two of the best pop tracks of the 00s. Allen’s appeal came from her youthful naughtiness and the fact that she could probably be your mate; the wild one who’d neck a pint and snog the bouncer to get into a club.
Then she disappeared, failed in her attempt at running a vintage boutique, got married and had kids. She became the archetypal bad girl turned good, her only media exposure being occasional appearances on Twitter to chat about Mumsnet and Breast Feeding. And thus she disconnected from her fan base: sure young girls could still admire her success as a mother, but she lost the gobby, ladette persona which had endeared her to a generation.
Allen attempts to rise from the dead with Sheezus, a playful homage to Kanye West’s 2013 release Yeezus. It’s not exactly a bad record, you can listen to it. For around five minutes. The majority of the tracks pour into one, long, lifeless moan in which Allen tells you about how normal her life is now. She has kids! She shags her husband! Congrats, you’re a functioning human being.
Above five minutes this drone becomes somewhat unbearable. Before listening to Sheezus I’d already had enough of Allen’s constant stream of privilege denial and bad feminism. Unfortunately this is what she centres the album around; a whole track is devoted to her annoyance at her upbringing, as well as the infamous ‘feminist’ pop record ‘Hard Out Here’.
Right, so,er Lily, look, do not write lyrics saying you’re ‘doing your thing and keeping your head down,’ when you spend a lot of your time attacking others for their perceptions of your lyrics. You’ve never kept your head down, which is why we used to love you, the issue now is that you’re trying to break away from your loud mouth image whilst trying to rebuild a career built around that ideal.
Secondly, you are from one of the most famous families in the country. Your dad’s Keith Allen. In five seconds I can Wikipedia your childhood and easily read about the privilege you came from. This is what makes the tracks ‘URL Badman’ and ‘Silver Spoon’ somewhat unsettling. Allen vehemently defends her upbringing in ‘Spoon’, only to oddly mock young poor white men in ‘Badman.’ It’s confusing and somewhat snobbish coming from a woman who abandoned the pop scene for the quiet life in the Cotswolds. It’s perhaps an attempt to mimic the success of Alfie, just as the ‘As Long As I Got You’ shares the country vibes of ‘It’s Not Fair.’
What will lead most to the album is the debate surrounding Allen’s feminist credentials. Since the release of ‘Hard Out Here’ Allen has divided critics on whether she is a model of modern feminism or a pretender to the throne. The album’s title track does little to give one faith in Allen’s feminist manifesto, with the lyrics attacking other female artists as ‘bitches.’ If Allen understood anything about the ideals of feminism, she would have been more careful with her words. Then of course there is ‘Hard Out Here’ which, when combined with that controversial music video, just becomes a mess of hypocrisy and slut shaming. There’s no manifesto here, simply a bored housewife trying to jump on a trend.
The overwhelming feel from Sheezus is that Allen desperately wants to relate to her audience and show them how normal she is. The issue in this is that it creates horrifically boring and misguided lyrics which are then paired with a clunky, synthetic electro-pop which does nothing to lift Allen’s autotuned vocals. We get it Lily, you want us to think you don’t care, but to be honest, neither do we.