Lily Allen was 21 when the catchy, cheeky Alright, Still was released in 2006, and notoriety has followed her ever since: In the past couple of years, she’s sold millions of records, feuded with Amy Winehouse, drunkenly suggested that copresenterElton John sod off at an awards show, and tearfully blogged on MySpace about feeling fat and ugly.
But unlike Winehouse, Allen has turned fame’s lemony side into fresh new songs. Produced by the Bird and the Bee’s Greg Kurstin, It’s Not Me, It’s You dials down the sass in favor of sincere self-reflection and a greater grasp of morning-after consequences. “Everyone’s at It” swoons with an electro-pop sheen — Britney would’ve made it into a single-minded banger — but Allen chooses to address institutionalized drug (ab)use. “Chinese” espouses the joys of a night at home, and “Him” is a clever update of that “what if god was one of us” song. (In Lilyland, the lord worships Creedence Clearwater Revival.) “It’s Not Fair” adds banjo-pickin’ to a tale of a great boyfriend with one huge, bedroom-related fault, and the politically minded “Fuck You” is amusingly direct.
While there’s nothing quite as hugely hooky as Alright singles “Smile” and “lDN,” the album feels more confidently complete. Lily is still fiery in all the right ways; she’s just not getting burned by her own flame.