1. We've been listening to this rather a lot over the last week or two and the findings of our in depth research are that it is really extremely good: funny, sad, clever and accessible with big tunes and fresh, sometimes unique production.
2. If you liked the synthy direction of the tracks Lily has been posting on her MySpace over the last year or so you're in luck — about four or five of the tracks here fall into that category. That's one of the album's three distinct sounds.
3. Sound number two is the dreaded (but in Lily's hands not unpleasant) genre of 'acousticy'.
4. Finally, a handful of tracks echo the fairgroundish sonic playfulness of 'Alfie' from the last album.
5. 'Him' is a song about God (NO WAIT COME BACK) which ponders what He gets up to in His spare time, and suspects that despite all these things we don't know about Him it's fair to assume He's a bit bored of the whole killing each other business. So while the verses wonder about whether He drives without insurance, whether he's been done for tax evasion, whether
he can remember people's names or whether he's taken smack or cocaine — climaxing with the fantastic couplet "I don't
imagine He's ever been suicidal, His favourite band is Creedence
Clearwater Revivial" — the chorus is less jovial: "ever
since He can remember people have died in his good name, long before
that September, long before hijacking planes. He's lost the will he
can't decide, he doesn't know who's right or wrong, but there's one
thing that he's sure of — this has been going on too long". No doubt this song will be interpreted as being wildly controversial and while there's no doubt that Lily knows what she's doing it's all beautifully phrased. Its classic Allen, really — having a laugh then catching you off guard.
6. A song called '22' finds Lily looking at the life of a celebrity and wondering where it all went wrong — "I see that look in her face, she's got that look in her eye, she's thinking how did I get here and wondering why". There'll be assumptions about who this song is about but we don't know one way or the other so we'll leave that to other people.
7. The album's called 'It's Not Me, It's You', by the way.
8. The first single, 'The Fear', is out in January. It's one of the tracks Lily posted on her MySpace ages ago. It could be adopted as an anthem for a generation of London-based microcelebrities whose lives revolve around appearances in freesheet newspapers — a celebration of defiant self-belief followed by crushing doubt and worthlessness. So you get "it doesn't matter cos I'm packing plastic, and that's what makes my life so fucking fantastic, and I am a weapon of massive consumption, it's not my fault it's how I'm programmed to function", then you get "I don't know what's right and what's real any more, I don't know how I'm meant to feel any more, and when do you think it will all become clear? Cos I'm being taken over by the fear". The Girls Aloud fans among you will know what we mean when we say that it's all a bit 'Swinging London Town'.
9. We also like 'Not Fair', which might have been aiming for a Last Shadow Puppets 'vibe' but really hurls itself headfirst into our favourite new genre: Stupid Country. It's a song about not getting banged senseless quite to one's liking: "I'm feeling pretty damn hard done by, I spent ages giving head", "there's just one thing that's getting in the way, when we go up to bed you're just no good" etc etc.
10. The whole album's been done with Greg Kurstin (Dragonette, All Saints, Kylie, Little Boots etc) which means that it hangs together in the way that albums are supposed to hang together, but Kurstin has more tricks than most ponies in the pop paddock so showcases various different types of knob-twiddling to keep things interesting.
11. 'Back To The Start' is a song about growing up and realising you
don't hate people, and that it's all better when everyone just gets
along and so on. In this track Lily explores the silly decisions we make in life, like so: "when we were growing up you always looked like
you were having such fun — you always were and you always will be the
taller and prettier one. People seem to love you, they gravitate
towards you, that's why I started to hate you so much." …And then
there's a half-rapped, half-sung, generally-trilled chorus asking for
forgiveness and wondering whether it's too late to go back to the start
and try again. Which is a beautiful sentiment.
12. 'Fuck You', previously known as 'GWB' and 'Guess Who Batman', is
Lily's big political rant against George W Bush. It might have seemed quite daring when it was written but with a new President already picking out curtains for the White House you can't help but
feel that the world has now moved on and that the song (still
a few months from release) might have been better off with a bit of a
lyrical spring clean. It wouldn't have taken much, just a few changes
of tense here and there. Still, the tune, from its
Carpenters-meets-Theme-From-Neighbours intro to the incredible "fuck you, fuck you very very much" chorus,
is irresistably fun and sweary. Sample lyric: "do you get a little kick out
of being small minded? You want to be like your father, it's approval
you're after, well that's not how you find it. Do you really enjoy
living a life that's so hateful? 'Cos there's a hole where your heart
should be you're losing control a bit and it's really distasteful. You
say you think we need to go to war. Well, we're already in one". *Ben Elton face*
13. What with this being a second album, 'Chinese' is the obligatory on-the-road/missing-everyone-back-home tune.
One of the things we like about this track, and a few others on the
album, is that it looks at one of the criticisms levelled at Lily and
the slew of girls who charted in her slipstream ("it's all just songs
about sitting around doing nothing") and doesn't give a shit. Instead, it throws the criticism back by celebrating the joy of sitting
around doing nothing in a warm, romantic and
likeable way. Here is how it goes: "I see you from the sky and I wonder
how long it will take for me to get home. I wait for an hour or so at
the carousel, I have a cigarette to pass the time because the traffic's
hell. I don't want anything more than to see your face when you open
the door — you make me beans on toast and a nice cup of tea, we'll get
a Chinese and watch TV". Blub-o-rama etc. (This all depends on whether you like Lily or not — if you're not a fan you'll probably want her to be sitting on that baggage carousel crying for eight hours.)
14. The album finishes with a nice song about Lily's dad Keith. "I'm so
pleased I never gave up on him — although you wouldn't believe some of
the things he did. Everyone said you have to give him some, and I'm
glad I gave it to him cos now everything's fine." V nice.
15. Never Gonna Happen has got AN ACCORDION IN IT.
16. 'Who'd Of Known' is the one Lily had on her MySpace with Take That's 'Shine' chorus. (It's lovely.)
17. We don't know what the sleeve will look like — chances are it won't look much like our shit screengrab of an iTunes music folder.
18. We're beginning to regret this '20 things' idea now.
19. Still, almost there.
20. In summary, at the end of one of our longest and most shoddily written Popjustice posts of recent times, this album is a big relief and incredibly enjoyable, and it's still getting better with every listen. The lyrical themes range from the sublime to the ridiculous, but nobody says this sort of stuff quite like Lily Allen. Most people never even say it at all. After what seems like a lifetime of pointless media coverage and a truly woeful television programme it's great to have Lily back on popstar duty and we reckon the material here is strong enough to remind a lot of people why they liked her in the first place.