Lily Allen, "It's Not Me, It's You" (EMI)
Two years ago, Lily Allen was a pixie-faced singer whose saucy, reggae-ish pop debut album "Alright, Still" nabbed her fame, fortune and competition with fellow U.K. rebel Amy Winehouse.
Now, following a clothing line, TV show and tabloid fodder (from drunken episodes to a publicized miscarriage) the 23-year-old Allen is back. She's still all sharp-tongued wit, but with an adult edge.
Written and recorded by Allen and producer-keyboardist Greg Kurstin (The Bird and the Bee), "It's Not Me, It's You" is a blend of beat and piano-based dance-pop and darker lyrics. The album may not have the straight zing of her cheeky hit "Smile," but its 12 tunes radiate clubby catchiness.
Allen still touches on subjects ranging from weight to bad sex and relationships, but also tells off the paparazzi and contemplates God.
"The Fear," an electro single about ravenous media attention, showcases Allen at her best: sassy, funny, descriptive and a bit naughty.
"I'll take my clothes off and it will be shameless/ Cause everyone knows that's how you get famous/ I'll look at The Sun and I'll look in The Mirror/ I'm on the right track and I'm onto a winner," Allen sings in her classic sweet vibrato, snapping at various British papers.
The nouveau-feminist ditty "22" swings on finger snaps and circus-sounding organ reminiscent of the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." Allen bemoans how a single woman almost 30 is viewed by society, repeating, "There's nothing to do and there's nothing to say/ Til the man of her dreams comes along, picks her up and puts her over his shoulder/ It seems so unlikely in this day and age."
Love itself continues to be a squeaky roller coaster in Allen's world, from "I Could Say" breathing sighs of relief after a break-up to Western-flavored "Not Fair" lamenting a man who can "never make me scream" in bed.
CHECK THIS OUT: Joan Osborne mused about God having humanlike qualities in her 1995 hit "One of Us," but Allen's "Him" delves into more irreverent territory, asking if God has ever taken cocaine or been suicidal. This melodic tune breaks the mold of Allen's previous manifestos.