It's Not Me, It's You (Deluxe Version)

It's Not Me, It's You (Deluxe Version)

For artists and bands skyrocketed to fame by their debut albums—especially albums rooted in their everyday lives—there’s often a struggle to deliver a second time, due to newfound pressures, and to the fact that life now looks nothing like it used to. That change in circumstances is at the heart of Lily Allen’s 2009 sophomore record, It’s Not Me, It’s You, which arrived three years after her star-confirming first album Alright, Still. It’s Not Me, It’s You finds Allen both embracing and grappling with the realities and contradictions of her still-fresh notoriety—and of her being plastered all over the pages of the British tabloids. Reuniting with Greg Kurstin, who had produced her debut, Allen eschews the effervescent ska-pop-leaning sound that had led to her breakthrough, instead favoring a more mass appeal, with sweet electro-pop and tracks that veer towards nursery rhyme. The album is also replete with surprising nods to country, as evidenced by the sparky barbs of “Not Fair,” a song that finds Allen in flying form as she lambasts a lover for being selfish in bed (“I look into your eyes/I want to get to know ya/And then you make that noise/And it’s apparent it’s all over.”) The standout songs here remain some of the biggest of Allen’s career. There’s “Fuck You,” her singsong blasting then-US President George W. Bush (“You want to be like your father, it’s approval you’re after/Well, that’s not how you find it”). And, of course, there’s “The Fear,” on which even Allen herself seems confused about whether she’s being satirical about her celebrity status (“I want loads of clothes and fuckloads of diamonds/I heard people die while they’re trying to find them”). She retains the devil-may-care sense of humor she perfected on her debut, but also seems set on finding a more serious, introspective tone. Take “Back to the Start,” an apology to her sister, or the jaunty, swinging pop of “22,” on which she laments how society’s ageism makes women feel about themselves. As second albums go, It’s Not Me, It’s You is a polished and playful consolidation of Lily Allen’s status as a British pop star with a voice of her own.

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