I think that Pop music’s greatest decade was in the 80’s. Sure, the 50’s had the Beach Boys, Elvis, and Buddy Holly but even the “raunchy” Elvis was tame in hindsight. The 60’s introduced us to Motown and Stax but this music was formula based and repetitive despite its greatness. The 70’s introduced us to Disco with a steady helping of rock from groups like Styx but Metal, Punk, and Funk ultimately have more musical worth. Then we come to the 80’s. The decade of that introduced New Wave and the mainstream alternative. The 80’s were choc full of androgyny, silly haircuts, glam, synthesizers, and subliminal messages. The Pop music in the 80’s was like a movement. The Cars gave you “Just What You Needed”, Nena gave you “99 Luftballons”, Devo made you want to “Whip It”, and you were “Running” with A Flock of Seagulls. Every band was a different idea, a different culture even. The substance was so phony yet it seemed so authentic. This is apparent in the rise in “retro” fashions that are so popular today from the late 70’s and 80’s (even though I think fashion is a cycle but later for that).

So, for all of the 90’s and the early 00’s we’ve been searching for that 80’s magic. We’ve found it every now and then but it wasn’t consistent.  Now, in 2009, it looks like Pop may be going through another “new wave” of sorts with acts like Katy Perry, Feist, M.I.A Amy Winehouse, Lady GaGa, Kings of Leon, and Lily Allen. Allen stands out amongst the nu-pop crowd to me and I think she is truly remarkable. She embodies that edge that the 80’s brought in with a soft voice and clever song writing.

“It’s Not Me, It’s You” is Allen’s second solo studio album with “Alright, Still” being her debut album. I thought “Alright, Still” was a great pop album, but it was a bit juvenile.  Her words were sharp and thought provoking and the music itself was pleasantly arranged. I did feel, however, that at some times the songs would wander a bit and that Lily was a bit unsure about herself.  In her sophomore effort, you can hear her newfound confidence. Her voice is undeniably sweet, even when Allen is trying to be bruising. The acidic sounds of the songs swirl around Allen’s pleasing voice extremely well and it actually strikes a great balance for the whole album.  For instance, the opening track of the album, “Everyone’s at it” is seemingly about drug abuse. However, Allen expresses her feelings about the issue in such a concise, light way that the initial sting is loss yet your brain will be filled with the thought for the song’s duration. This is where Allen wins. Most Pop music goes through one ear and out the other. Allen subconsciously seeps into your brain while your mind interprets the melodies and musicality of her songs.

Let’s not kid ourselves though, Allen is not a lyrical genius or psychological wizard. Her attitude still leans towards the whimsical side. Irony is Allen’s thing and she sticks too it. Songs like “Not Fair” (a song about a great, loving boyfriend that’s terrible in bed) and “Back to The Start” (a song about Lily being the jealous little sister trying to make up for lost time and burned bridges) showcase this perfectly. Lily can also be tender convincingly with songs like “Who’d Have Known” and “Chinese” She also sticks to a comfortable vocal range, which really pleases me in this case. 

Ultimately, Lily achieves her goal. She made a more mature album than “Alright, Still” without losing her edge. Lily Allen’s “It’s Not Me, It’s You” gets 4 stars out of 5.