“I try to keep an open mind, I feel like I’m under attack all of the time / I’m compromised, my head can’t always hold itself so high,” Lily Allen sings on the opening line of her fourth studio album ‘No Shame’. It’s been a little over four years since the release of her last record ‘Sheezus’, and there are a couple of things to note; one, the singer’s voice has never sounded so good and two, she doesn’t give a shit about your criticisms. “I’m a bad mother, I’m a bad wife, you saw it on the socials, you read it online,” she continues, laying herself completely bare from the get go, these lyrics soon becoming engulfed in a wash of sparkling and swirling synths.
Giggs collaboration ‘Trigger Bang’ follows swiftly and is a nostalgic nod to Allen’s past while reggae and ska influences also bleed into some of the tracks on the record, like on effervescent number ‘What You Waiting For’ (not a Gwen Stefani cover - although could you imagine?!) and the Lady Chann-featuring ‘Waste’. It’s very reminiscent of debut ‘Alright, Still’, which doesn’t take a genius to work out, is a great combination.
Lily’s mischievous side is never too far away either. Take ‘My One’ for instance: “Pumpkin I picked something up in Sydney, now the voice inside my kidneys says I need my one,” she quips in the backhanded love song which showcases her natural knack for colloquial lyricism on top of a plodding bassline and twinkling electronic set up.
The most heart-wrenching moment on the record though comes in the form of ‘Three’. A song written from the perspective of her children, coupled with the singer’s own childhood experiences, it’s impossible not to be moved by the touching ode as Allen sings delicately: “This afternoon I made a papier-mâché fish mum, I made it just for you, please don’t go stay here with me, it’s not my fault I’m only three.” It’s closely followed by the traditional piano balladry of ‘Family Man’ and the woozy ‘Everything To Feel Something’.
Sometimes its hard to separate the art from the artist, but Lily Allen has once again drawn upon brutally honest and painfully raw experiences from her own personal life to create an all-encompassing and emotive sonic journey that keeps your finger firmly on the repeat button. Absolutely nothing to be ashamed of here.
Words: Shannon Cotton
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