Lily Allen, 'Alright, Still' (Capitol)

8
Alright, Still
Critical Mass
Label: Capitol

by Mikael Wood

In "LDN," a breezy reggae-pop jam from her debut album, 21-year-old Lily Allen describes a bike ride through her hometown of London and notes that objects in her mirror are more screwed up than they appear. "When you look with your eyes / Everything seems nice," she chirps. "But if you look twice / You can see it's all lies." That basically sums up the worldview of this well-to-do daughter of British actor Keith Allen: Everyone in England assumes she traded on her dad's showbiz clout, but Allen actually built a grassroots buzz the new old-fashioned way -- posting demos to her MySpace page.

Alright, Still is all about the stories behind the stories. In the chorus of "Everything's Just Wonderful," Allen puts on her game face for the tabloids, and then reveals, "I wanna be able to eat spaghetti Bolognese / And not feel bad about it for days and days and days." "Knock 'Em Out" describes the thrill of looking fabulous in a bar, then repelling guys with outrageous excuses. In "Not Big," Allen bids a harsh farewell to an ex: "How would you feel if I said that you never made me come?"

Alright's sparkly high-life beats -- courtesy of Mark Ronson and Greg Kurstin, among others -- are less ambivalent; they all gleam with upmarket panache. But strong medicine always requires a little sugar.

Now Hear This: Lily Allen - "Smile" WINDOWS MEDIA HIGH | LOWREAL MEDIA PLAYER HIGH | LOW

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