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Lily Allen - Alright, Still Review

by Dan MacIntosh

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It's more than just the accent that gives Lily Allen away as British. She's also frank as only the Brits can be. Allen's CD opens with the single "Smile," which sports these striking opening lines: "When you first left me I was wanting more/But you were f***ing that girl next door, what ya do that for." This is the sort of profanity-laced complaint most closely associated with rapper Lil' Kim's smack. It's not American white girl pop, so don't hold your breath for Kelly Clarkson to do the same.

Reggae music is much bigger in England than it is in the U.S., and not surprisingly, pop-a-fied Rasta grooves saturate this CD. "Not Big," for example, finds Allen inhabiting the same relaxed lagging beat Blondie previously incorporated into "The Tide Is High." With "Smile," Allen also gives its swaying beat her best Norah Jones jazz vocal. The project's weakest singing is found on "Take What You Take," however, which veers just a little too close to chant-y Spice Girls territory.

Allan is not just shouting out musically to lovers and former lovers via these songs. "Alfie," for instance, is a cautionary note to a little brother who smokes too much pot and plays video games all day. She may have a foul mouth, but that doesn't stop her from expressing a loving heart toward loved ones whenever necessary.

I'm not sure this is the best way to test the quality of any song, but "Smile" came over the speakers as I was roller skating the other day. (This is not the way I review all music, by the way. It was just a coincidence). Anyhow, its melody joyously made me want to glide around the floor, filling my soul with the inner peace only wheels-on-rink can provide. Either that or it was a sugar rush. But I think it was because of the music. I'm almost sure of that.

During its best moments, "Alright, Still" comes off like a funky dance version of the music folk-rock British singer/songwriter Kirsty MacColl once made. Much like Allen, MacColl was unabashedly British and uninhibitedly brash. Although she'll never change the way we look at alternative rock, the same way Radiohead and others have done, Lily Allen offers a fresh and witty voice to the contemporary music scene mix. And that oughta at least make you smile.


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