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Album review: Lily Allen's 'It's Not Me, It's You'

February 9, 2009 |  4:17 pm

Lilyallen Saucer-eyed provocateur Lily Allen had to impress with her follow-up to "Alright, Still," the 2006 record launched by a few charming, if slight, MySpace demos. Producer Mark Ronson gave her debut its bouncy retro-meets-reggae identity, but she did well to return to producer Greg Kurstin, whose resourceful fingerprints are all over "It's Not Me, It's You," Allen's full-blown entree into character-driven pop.

Maybe more than any other pop star at the moment, Allen reveals her personality, or at least her cheeky confection. She's mischievous, sweet as powdered sugar, backstabbing at her worst and absolutely irrepressible.

Her gift for satire -- which roams from boudoir to parties to politics, with mixed results -- is encapsulated on "The Fear," a poison arrow aimed at celebrity. It extends to herself in "Him," a rumination on God, in which she pokes a needle into her too-precious concept with knowingly ridiculous lines such as "I don't imagine he's ever been suicidal / His favorite band is Creedence Clearwater Revival." In "Never Gonna Happen," she berates a clingy boy while dragging him into the sack.

The Bird and the Bee's Kurstin, who wrote the album with Allen, knows how to play to his heroine's strengths with a battery of deft touches. Vaudeville, show-tune theatrics, lonely dance-floor pop and even a smidge of cartoon country give "It's Not Me, It's You" its clever foundation that references pop culture with the same insatiability as Allen's lyrics.

Allen will always be revered by some and reviled by others for her acidic wit that sometimes skims over herself. For all her insights, she's flawed, sometimes hypocritical. She doesn't look too deeply, and let's hope she never does -- or else it'll be no fun at all.

--Margaret Wappler

Lily Allen
"It's Not Me, It's You"
Three stars