Whilst the music industry always needs fresh new artists and bands sometimes there’s nothing better than hearing the recognisable sounds of an artist who has been away for a while. That’s why it feels like a sigh of relief to hear the familiar, high pitched vocals of Lily Allen once again. Since her ‘retirement’ at the unlikely age of 23, the pop world has been missing someone who tells it how it is. Following hints at a return to the music industry, in the style of featuring on Pink’s track ‘True Love’ and covering Keane’s ‘Somewhere Only We Know’, for the ever popular John Lewis Christmas advert, Lily confirmed that a third studio album would be released.
Before we knew it, the word ‘Sheezus’ was part of our vocabulary and Lily was back where she belonged. The record reflects changes in her life during the past few years, in which trainer and dress wearing Lily Allen converted to married mother of two living in the countryside. But there’s no need for her fans to worry, the truth telling feminist is still clearly there and motherhood hasn’t stopped the mention of sex and drugs. There’s not a massive change in the musical sounds, but the lyrics reflect a more content Lily compared to her previous records where she worried about life being over at ‘22’.
It’s clear that this album wasn’t just thrown together. The tracks work in a chronological order, opening with the title track, referring to her comeback and how she is prepared to be compared to every other female artist out there. The lyrics give an insight into what it feels like to be an English female solo artist competing against the likes of ‘Queen B, Riri and Gaga’ in Lily’s words. As ever she isn’t taking herself too seriously, declaring ‘give me that crown bitch I wanna be Sheezus’, the comical title influenced by Kanye West’s Yeezus. The song is yet to be released as a single, which rumours have suggested is because of the daring mention of ‘periods’ – another example of Lily not being afraid to mention topics that society tries to avoid in conversation. The ‘life as a woman’ message is similar to that of her instantly catchy comeback single ‘Hard out here’. Playing to her role as Sheezus, she acts as a spokeswoman for all girls, arguing about inequality and sexist conforms such as being a housewife over a career woman and the pressure of men getting rated for their sex lives whilst women get slated.
‘Insincerely Yours’ contradicts the evident nerves from the title track and instead confidently slates the world of fame. Questioning why we should really care about peoples ‘instagrams, lovely house or ugly kids’ Infamously known as someone who takes part in twitter spats as if they are a weekly sport, Lily Allen makes it clear that she isn’t in the music industry to make friends, but to ‘make money’. She also includes a tongue in cheek reference to the Mail Online, where everyone seems to get their updates on other people’s lives and who ironically often feature stories on Lily herself.
It wouldn’t be a Lily Allen record without a song dedicated to sex – who could forget the controversial chorus to ‘Not Fair’… ‘L8 CMMR’ takes on that role for this album, one of the many songs about her seemingly perfect marriage, although I’m not sure how her husband would feel about this track name. Being one of the many ‘celebrities’ who doesn’t publicise her marriage she has chosen to get across how strong their relationship is through lyrics instead, proudly stating ‘he’s gonna spend his life with me, you can’t have him look at my ring’.
The album is a 50/50 split between her two personas. Lily Allen – the hard hitting, school dropout turned pop star, attending top name parties with the likes of Kate Moss and featuring in all the papers. Then there’s Lily Rose Cooper – the happily married mother of two, staying out of the spotlight to spend nights in at her country home. A last minute decision was made to release Sheezus under the more relatable name of Lily Allen. This was definitely the right decision, fitting with the sequin and drag filled Lily Allen wardrobe making her come alive on stage and believe the lyrics she’s singing. Lily Rose Cooper has an innocent English Rose aura to it, too innocent for what Lily Allen is portraying. Clearly having mixed views about being back in the spotlight, ‘Life for Me’ and ‘As Long as I’ve got you’ show Lily assuring herself that taking a break for married, family life was the right decision. Reflecting on her pop star past in ‘Life for Me’ she sings ‘been there and done that was good for nothing, everything’s perfect I’m as content as can be’. The whole song has a nostalgic feel, pulling between the seemingly glamorous life of pop stars and the messy life of motherhood. Many of the tracks sound childlike and upbeat, similar to the 2006 release ‘Alfie’. ‘As Long as I’ve got you’ could be summed up in one word as a ‘happy’ song. Again with reference to her marriage, a slight hint at matureness is evident with the line ‘being with you is better than sticking things up my nose’.
There’s always a risk with ‘comeback’ albums, many artists choose to introduce a completely new sound as if to prove they’ve progressed, but this goes either way. The fact ‘Sheezus’ went straight to number one in its first week shows that Lily Allen made the right decision to play it safe and stick to the sound her fans know and love. Her witty, poetic lyrics are as strong as ever, cynically talking about fame but clearly loving the idea of being back in the spotlight. Everyone loves a bit of controversy and a catchy pop song – whether they admit it or not – so I think it’s only a good thing that Lily Allen is back wearing her crown in the industry she loves to hate.