Lily Allen goes deep and personal on No Shame
It is about four years ago that Lily Allen made a comeback with the album Sheezus, something she does not seem to be very proud of now (judging from this interview with Junkee). After two critically acclaimed and commercially successful records (Alright, Still (2006) and It’s Not Me, It’s You (2009)), Allen experienced a less sunny period in her career. She took the four years that followed to go back to creating the music she actually wants to make. The result is the brand new album No Shame, on which she goes deep and tells us about everything that went down in her personal life over the years.
Lily Allen recently went through a divorce from Sam Cooper, the father of her two daughters, lived in fear of a stalker for years and is a constant target of social media hate because of her outspokenness. Allen started the campaign for No Shame at the end of last year when she dropped ‘Trigger Bang’, a hiphop infused pop track that talked about her need to cut people out of her life who held her back, as well as looking back at her tumultuous ‘sex, drugs & rock’n’roll’ past. She followed it up with the stripped back double single ‘Three’, a moving piano ballad written from the perspective of her daughter about her mother’s busy touring life and ‘Higher’, a light electronic tune with emotive vocals which is directed at people in the music industry who tried to take advantage of her.
Naturally, the divorce Allen went through had a definite impact on the record. Current single ‘Lost My Mind’ details the mental state the break up left her in, drawing some heartbreaking scenes, in a strong contrast to the soaring, electronic production and uplifting melody. The same goes for the breezy lightly ska inspired ‘What You Waiting For’, on which Allen discusses the feelings of regret that followed her actions that led to the divorce, while the insanely catchy chorus of ‘Your Choice’ concludes: “I’ve always said that no man can own me”.
Allen strips it back more than ever which results in No Shame being her most ballad heavy album to date. On ‘Family Man’ she channels her inner Elton John with a vivacious arrangement and big pop chorus on which she pleads her ex husband not to go on with the divorce. The almost uncomfortably intimate follow up track ‘Apples’ sees Allen come to the devastating conclusion that she became just like her parents (whom went through divorces too). If you thought that was heartwrenching, then ‘Everything To Feel Something’ comes around to hit you in the face with Lily recounting her dark days of substance abuse and emptiness. It sure takes guts to go this deep and personal!
Of course a Lily Allen album would not be complete without some hard hitting messages. Opening track ‘Come On Then’ is a glorious electro bop that addresses the fake friends Allen came across over the years: “If you go on record saying that you know me, then why am I so lonely? ‘Cause nobody fucking phones me.” The track brings back the heights of It’s Not Me, It’s You, while the more uplifting last part of the album sounds like an update of her Alright, Still sound. ‘My One’ describes her search for love, while ‘Pushing Up The Daisies’ talks about the high hopes at the start of a new relationship. She tops things off with ‘Cake’, an anthem directed at women in hopes to inspire them to follow their dreams and ‘get a piece of that patriarchy pie’.
It is safe to say that Lily Allen outdid herself on every single level with No Shame. Her lyrics are more personal and poetic than ever, both unapologetic and fragile. One can always count on Allen to bring the catchiest pop hooks even when production wise things are often stripped back here, maximizing the emotional impact. No Shame is a brave comeback of a celebrated pop artist; this is not a return to form, this is simply Lily Allen’s best record yet.