With her crackling samples and toothy snark, Lily Allen arrived in the middle of this decade as the antidote to Britney's self-aggrandizement. She was the Gawker.com to Spears' People. Now, with the saucy 2000s winding down, its signature decadence and celebrity lust are growing quainter with each property foreclosure. Attitudes that were widespread only one American Idol ago (self-expression through credit card debt, for example) are going the way of '90s irony and '80s ambition. Where does that leave this quintessential Noughties' voice on her second album? Apparently with little new to say.
For anyone unfamiliar with Allen's debut, the first three songs of It's Not Me, It's You offer a primer of her favorite subjects — "Everyone's at It" (drugs), "The Fear" (fame), and "Not Fair" (bad sex). But even here, Allen spits enough zingers to momentarily distract from the drab synthscapes that clutter the album like cheap and shapeless furniture. She seems to know this, which is why she's made one of the wordiest albums not to feature Lil' Wayne in recent memory. But she also knows comic rhythm and timing, so a numbing majority of her best lines are sung in iambs, with the emphasis falling on every other syllable. While these lyrics showcase a top-notch wit ("I want loads of clothes and fuckloads of diamonds/I hope people die while trying to find them"), there's little in the repetitive melodies that lingers in our heads after the punch line.