Lily Allen has an attitude but, she utilizes her sourness to comment on injustice and speak out about things that bother her. Allen’s music is always very blunt and truthful and her third studio album, Sheezus, is no exception. Ridiculed for being “grumpy” and “halfhearted,” this album is actually a kick in the ass to an imperfect society. Allen’s bitterness has paid off, because her voice is now loud enough to cause a rumble.
The first track, “Sheezus,” is about Allen’s perspective of female musicians and their continuous influence in the music industry. She alludes to herself as a boxer, constantly fighting the same fight, and eventually sings about other popular and praised female singers, like Beyonce and Lorde, who may experience the same conundrum. She labels them all as divas, but declares, “give me that crown, bitch, I wanna be Sheezus.” This play on a religious association is clever, but the best part of the song is when she says, “it makes me angry/I’m serious/but then again/I’m just going to get my period”. This short line can be connected to the idea that people associate female emotions with their monthly cycle or it could be connected to the idea that people tend to think ill of periods. Allen’s inclusion of this very natural situation just aids this girl-power song.
The music for “Sheezus,” is also individualistic, with multiple beats accompanied by a slow, steady bass line. There are some electronic variations, almost like claps, but the melody is pretty basic and constant. Towards the end, though, Allen’s vocals are only paired with a light piano and strong choir vocals.
Another song that includes some very strong, political commentary is “Hard Out Here”. The melody for this song is very involved, busy, and loud. There’s a lot of auto-tune and electronic elements used, but also a fast,up-beat piano rhythm that provides some substance. The bridge is very mellow though, with just a full, almost 3D sound and strong vocals. But, the star of this song is the lyrics and their blatant truths. Allen calls out injustice with double standards in music, slut-shaming, wage gaps, beauty standards, and sexualization. Her ability to cram so many social issues into one song is extraordinary, but the way she handles them is greater. Some key lines like, “forget your balls and grow a pair of tits,” and “we’ve never had it so good, uh-huh, we’re out of the woods/and if you can’t detect the sarcasm, you’ve misunderstood”, really personify Allen’s opinions and highlights issues.
Sheezus does have elements that aren’t so heavy. Allen lightens the mood up with songs about freedom, love, and loss.
“L8 CMMR” is extremely upbeat, with a grand introduction of straight instrumental. The melody is dominated by electronic beats, but dips when Allen’s voice fluctuates. The lyrics focus on Allen’s romantic relationship and she uses lyrics that demonstrates her commitment like, “and when I see his face/I feel like I can win the race”, and “I wouldn’t send, I wouldn’t send him back/he won me game, set, and match”.
‘Life for Me” starts with a guitar melody and an airiness that is different from the other tracks on the album. The chorus explodes into a pop ballad that sounds realistic and doesn’t have a heavy electronic tone. The lyrics explain Allen’s life with children and the absence of youthful experiences. The best explanation of this song is actually found in the line, “I could never get bored of it/and most of the time I love this/but sometimes I get nostalgic/when actually I’m complete.” This song has so much personality and includes so many personal anecdotes.
The last track that I was really drawn to is “URL Badman,” which essentially pokes fun at critics. Allen’s lines like, “It’s not for me?/It must be wrong/I could ignore it and move on/but I’m a Broadband Champion/A URL Badman”, shows a stereotypical view behind things like reviews and blogs. Allen even calls out some publications like Vice, WordPress, and Pitchfork. Her opinion on art critiques is definitely clear and amusing. The introduction is cute, too. There’s a little story played out, with a person clicking on a keyboard and being called by a parental unit to dinner, setting up a scene. The melody though, just has a deep, slow rhythm that eventually opens into a basic Dubstep breakdown. “URL Badman” follows Allen’s style with rude lyrics and a simple melody.
I love Allen and she provided exactly what I expected for Sheezus. The lyrics are truthful and rude, but necessary to hear for the societal issues they address. The music is easy, catchy, and perfect for dancing. These songs are true jams that make women feel powerful and pretty. Allen’s comeback is intense. Welcome back, Sheezus!