There’s no escaping Lily Allen at the moment. Seemingly bursting from obscurity taking a left turn at myspace and suddenly finding herself sitting pretty at the top of the charts. For anyone who might be thinking that her current single Smile is something of a one off they could a lot worse than have an honest listen to her debut album Alright Still.
Eleven tracks of agile summery pop ska forged unashamedly from a wealth of influences. Allen makes little effort to hide where she’s coming from musically. The samples and melodies sit upfront declaring their origins. And why not, while the detractors are sitting around either sampling unlistenable electro bollocks or deep fringed guitar angst Alright Still simply bypasses them and gets on with the job at hand.
The eleven tracks on offer are a potential mine of singles. We’ve already seen the super infectious LDN and Smile and if you’re looking for a quick radio friendly fix Allen could quite happily keep pulling material from this stock for some time to come. There are shades of The Streets in her work, laconic stories served up with no pretension and a confidence that you wouldn’t expect from someone who is only on their first album.
Musically amongst other things she works with stylings of seventies UK pop reggae and before long melodies emerge that you’ve definitely heard before (Althia & Donna, Dawn Penn) and serves to mix them with a simple pop flavouring, in this instance it’s all put together well enough to be totally acceptable. At times other influences emerge with more subtlety, for example slight tinges of music hall work themselves into the tracks (especially with the ballsy ragtime piano splashed on Shame For You).
Vocally Allen might not be up their with the greats but what she offers works for the material on hand. Her subject matter chronicles the life scenarios of a young woman living at the beginning of the 21st Century. You get to see tomboyish wanderings through relationships and their inadequacies (I pity the subjects of some of her material, she can brandish a vicious tongue) as well as bitchy confrontations in a club, and her efforts to rouse her brother from a weed induced stupor
As a whole this is an album that fits the mood of the weather we’ve been experiencing lately. A light rhythmic synthesis of pop, ska and reggae fused with an unforced lyrical and vocal style. Perfect for the summer…and beyond.