If you’re to believe the internet (which obviously you should, because it’s all gospel innit), Lily Allen is a racist, homophobic, anti-feminist, anti-Beyoncé, attention-seeking terror of humanity that shouldn’t be allowed to open her mouth, and if she does then one must immediately roll their eyes and/or stir-up some controversy. Everything Ms Cooper has done of late has somehow managed to be twisted into drama – call it grand publicity, but she probably doesn’t help herself. The path to pop hell is paved with good intentions, so several misappropriated lols and social messages later, the knives are out. Of course, the Twitter spats probably don’t help either, but isn’t this the outspoken Lily Allen everyone fell in love with almost a decade ago?
Everyone, it seems, except us. Barring The Fear – which, let’s face it, was a masterstroke of intelligent social commentary with a banging tune – most of Allen’s stuff has left us a bit nonplussed, even gimmicky at times. Which is why we approach Sheezus (goading title, cover, and all) with both interest and trepidation: is Allen using hype to cover tripe, or is it really just hard out here for a bitch?
The answer, mercifully, is that Sheezus doesn’t just walk, she bloody well runs. The title track kicks things off in spectacularly shameless form – come on, how often do you find yourself singing along to a line about menstruation? – and L8 CMMR is as perfect a slice of summery pop you can get, with its Mariah Carey / Fantasy bridge and everything. Balladry gets a surprisingly good shrift on Close Your Eyes and Take My Place, respectively sensual and confessional.
And oh, how we can’t express enough love for Insincerely Yours. It’s a deft bit of modern R&B with bite, all “I don’t give a fuck about your Instagram” instead of the usual wet bollocks the genre invites. This, along with Silver Spoon, is the sort of track that should be a single – we reckon Lily might agree with us when we say that the nursery-rhyme jingling of Air Balloon and Our Time probably serve better as Cher Lloyd songs rather than Sheezus releases (and we can happily skip the calypso of Life For Me while we’re at it).
But it’s a track like Insincerely Yours – and the shedload of brilliant bonus tracks – that reminds us why Lily Allen is so important as a modern pop star. Where artistes like Lorde and Iggy Azalea are bemoaning critics who give them a bad review, Allen throws away all that music industry fellatio to take pop culture potshots in a way that still sounds pretty damn pleasing to our ears. It might be hard out here for a bitch, but trust us, it’s even worse if Lily Allen thinks you’re a c*nt.