Category: Reviews


Fresh off the bus with my late pass

I’m already about a week late on this new M.I.A. album but when it comes to album reviews, it’s better late than never. I came into my first listening of this album with high expectations seeing that her debut and second albums were both strong efforts. I figured that M.I.A. would have matured musically and that I was in store for a groundbreaking, landmark album that would completely make me reassess my musical ideals. Plainly speaking, I was expecting greatness.

However, Maya, M.I.A.’s third studio album made me realize how naïve I can be at times. Contrary to popular opinion, I feel that Maya is far from a great album and doesn’t quite stack up to her first two albums, as a whole, in terms of quality. Maya can be characterized as flashes of brilliance and streaks of dismal darkness. Every four or so tracks is musically akin to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It’s a roller coaster ride of genre-bending, electronic, music that ultimately leaves you pleased at the good tracks on the album and enormously livid at the unpleasant tracks that accompany the excellent.

Since this album is so bi-polar, let me review it one side at a time. The good about Maya is fantastic. More rhythmic compositions over far more melodic vocals show finesse in M.I.A.’s approach. This finesse doesn’t diminish from M.I.A.’s rough-around-the-edges punk persona, but instead shows that there is another facet to M.I.A.’s musical talent than unrelenting dance beats and political finger pointing. M.IA. is not a good rapper by any stretch of the imagination, but M.I.A. doesn’t try to play herself up as one. Her lyrics get the job done, and are revered more so for their striking messages than the thought of them being ridiculously complicated or intricate. The reason that I mention this at all is that on Maya, M.I.A. sings a lot more than she raps. This is great because M.I.A. is a far more versatile artist when she is singing.  Upbeat dance flavored songs like “XXXO”, “Internet Connection”, “Steppin Up” and “Illygirl” seem as though they were well thought out and planned before they were recorded and bubble with the spirit of M.I.A.’s unique, neo-pop flavor. The slower more metrical songs like “It Takes A Muscle”, “It Iz What It Iz”, “Tell Me Why”, “Space”, and “Caps Lock” are utterly brilliant. It’s a style of music I wish M.I.A. would exercise with more. Her same indescribable essence permeates the songs just the same as with her upbeat records but her slower songs have a sizeable, more emotional weight than her bubbly offerings. For an artist so charged and inspired by her political beliefs, I can only hope M.I.A. takes her music more in the slower, planned direction.

Thankfully, the bad aspects of Maya are overshadowed by the good, but they still leave me scratching my head. Six out of the sixteen songs on Maya are completely useless. “Teqkilla”, “Lovalot”, “Story To Be Told”, “Born Free” “Meds and Feds”, and “Believer” are all jumbled messes of misguided innovation and originality. None of those songs feel like one sound connects to the next. I can’t even stand to listen to them anymore because they’re just so awful. There is not much to say about them other than that it seems that M.I.A. and her familiar team of producers Diplo, Switch, and Rusko just got too carried away with the production machinery.

So, those six songs could have really put Maya in the dumps, but the rest of the album is so excellent that it can easily go excused. Still, it is disappointing that the album wasn’t as complete as it should be.  Because the album jumps constantly from splendid to substandard, I can only give it three Sri Lankan flags out of Five. It was a bit disappointing but hopefully M.I.A. can capitalize on the good elements found in Maya in her next album.

Wu-Massacre!!!

This has been a pretty though week for me. I came back from Spring Break with the task of assessing how trustworthy certain friends of mine are, eliminating a mountain of homework, telling people I care about how I really feel and hoping they could forgive me for past mistakes, and having to deal with having my “sports pass” revoked. While some things are going easier than others, I knew there was one thing I could look forward to on Tuesday without any shadow of a doubt: Wu-Massacre. There isn’t anything like the Wu, I swear. I had been peeping the leaks and sneaks for this album all the way up to its release and couldn’t wait for the full project. Raekwon, Meth, and Ghost are a thunderous threesome of emcess that aint nuthin ta fuck with still to this day. Very few other hip hop groups can sound fresh in any era they spit like the Wu-affiliates. With this being said, I came into Wu-Massacre with the thought that another classic was in my hands.

And at first listen, this may seem like an instant classic. But after a second or third listen, you’ll probably be forced to change that mindset. It’s a great album, but a classic, it is not. First of all, this album is pretty short. Take out the two pointless skits, and you only have ten songs which add up to about 30 minutes of run time. Another thing is that that classic Wu-Tang balance is a bit off on this album. It just doesn’t have that same “Protect Ya Neck” flow. Speaking of balance, Raekwon is absent on on more than half the album. Not that Ghost and Meth don’t hold their weight, they go above and beyond the call of duty for sure, but that Raekwon flow is just killer and it’s a shame that he didn’t bless all the tracks. The features are good but I just wish there was more to hear on this album.

What there is to hear is fantastic though. The beats are all on point. Production fell in the hands of many but it’s all tasteful and each song makes excellent use of its samples. Each song has that classic NY tinge to it and I hate to say it, but it reminded me of that good, old, classic Wu sound just a bit despite the balance issue. The lyrics are hard, edgy, piercing, and most of all, excellent. Like I said, these guys don’t regurgitate anything. They just take their signature flows and take off on each track. Ghostface’s outrageous exclamations are just as dope now as they were back in ’96 for instance.

I can’t help but feel that if they made us wait just little bit longer, this album would be in the pantheon of the greatest hip hop albums of all time. As it stands now, it’s like a great party that ends way too early. It was fun while is lasted, but if you got a little more time, it would become epic. Just when the album feels like it peaks it ends. For that, I give Wu-Massacre 3 ‘Cuse logos out of 5.

Superfast Jellyfish

One of my favorite alternative bands, Gorillaz, released their 3rd studio album a couple of weeks ago entitled Plastic Beach. Suffice to say, since then it’s been in heavy rotation in my music playlist.

Some background info on this band that’s not even real in a sense. Gorillaz is the virtual band, brainchild of Britpop pioneer David Albarn and comic book artist/designer Jamie Hewlett. The faces of the band are the completely animated/cartoon characters by the names of 2D, Russel Hobbs,  Noodle, and Murdoc Niccals. First created in 1998, the Gorillaz took off in 2001 after the release of their self-titled 1st studio album. Carried by the strength of  singles such as “Clint Eastwood”, the album was a surprise hit that went on to sell 7 million copies worldwide. Not bad for a virtual band right?

Coming back to the present of 2010, and Plastic Beach arrives. Gorillaz are known for great collaborations with a variety of well-known and indie artists (Dale The Funkee Homosapien, Snoop Dogg, De La Soul to name a few) and they don’t disappoint on this effort. However, that’s not to say that this band can’t carry songs, without a featured artist, by themselves. Give “Broken” a peek and you’ll see what I mean. Yet again, the album leads off with a strong single: “Stylo” featuring Mos Def and Bobby Womack (brush up on your soul singers kiddies). The song has a disco vibe to it, but Mos Def’s addition brings a great effect as he begins rapping first on the song. Insert Bobby Womack’s voice and it really helps to tie it all together. Check it below:

As far as closing remarks go, the album is a solid hit. It’s not genre breaking (after all the Gorillaz can’t really be pinned to just one genre), nor is it innovative. However, if you want an alternative to what you may listen to everyday, then this group is worth a listen.

One More Thing: I just have to say I enjoy a mixtape, ep, album, whatever all the more when it features a new artist/band who’s sound i enjoy. Makes me curious about them and 9/10 times, I like what i hear to the point that they get added to my library. This album did that for me with a group by the name of Little Dragon (featured on two tracks), and I look forward to posting more about them in the future.

“Real music is gon’ last”

I love “Night Dreamer”. It’s a soothing album that really winds you down while you listen to it. Wayne Shorter has a knack for composing music that is aggressively progressive but not offensive. I especially enjoy the title track, which is like a soft aural explosion induced from a synthesis of talent. The whole album can be sort of summed up that way. Shorter’s Blue Note debut is also probably one of his most focused efforts in his great career. Beautiful listen, “Night Dreamer” is.

Personnel: Lee Morgan (trumpet),Wayne Shorter (tenor saxophone), McCoy Tyner (piano), Reggie Workman (bass), Elvin Jones (drums)

DOWNLOAD

New Lightspeed Listen

So, my favorite band right now is Lightspeed Champion despite tough competition for that spot from so many different acts. Devonte Hynes is nothing less than brilliant and “Falling Off A Lavender Bridge” was an outstanding studio album debut. My recent indie rock listens have showcased some superb songwriters which is always a privilege. Great songwriters craft insightful lyrics that require you to think through their music. This in return enhances the experience for you and me, the listeners.

“Falling Off A Lavender Bridge” was an eager album. Hynes got out the gate quick and established his morals and values quickly with the first couple of songs. It was a linear shot from song to song. “Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You” avoids this sort of narrative path. Hynes visits more places and sounds in this album. It’s like that one family member that has all this cool, weird, shit in their house. You want to see it all, and it will all easily please you, but you don’t know where to start or finish. When you finish “Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You” you wont be able to truly explain it’s high level of musical diversity and meaning until you mull over the tracks album once again. The instrumentation is spot on. Hynes is one of the most versatile multi-instrumentalists I’ve heard in a while. His guitar is the high spot of all his efforts but sometimes his efforts on other instruments, like the piano shine through. One example of that is “The Big Guns of Highsmith”.

So where does Hynes actually stand with “Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You”? I commend him for expanding his sound. It now has a higher ceiling which will allow him to explore more ideas within his new concept of his sound. I also applaud his ability to continue the pattern of cohesion throughout his tracklist just  like he did on his first album, but still be able to explore new sounds.  It’s not necessarily something that is terribly new or innovative, but it is an excellent effort. It’s a great listen for any indie rock fan looking for a new perspective on the same, old landscape.

I give “Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You” a 4.5 out of 5 Saints

Pastel Cardigans and Conspiracy Theories

New York is a beautiful city. It’s a sprawling metropolitan holding the hopes and dreams of eight million different people. Every body has a story in New York City, for better or worse. Not only is it the origin of both of my parents and immediate family, but my birthplace as well. Even though I’m a child of the D.C. metro area, I was always be a son of New York and its culture. It is a culture that has always stressed creativity and innovation and is among the world’s leaders in artistic advancement. New York has many traits, but one of my favorites is the city’s appreciation for the arts. Whether you’re catching the The Jazz Masters Quintet play at the Lincoln Center, viewing the new Diego Velázquez exhibits at the Met, or going to witness Prefuse 73 at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, New York, at any given time, is choc full of the world’s leading art of any medium. Not only does New York showcase some of the world’s finest art, it also produces some of the world’s finest artists. The list of great musicians from the streets of New York is endless, Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Nas, The Ramones, Dizzy Gillepsie, Afrika Bambaataa, Sarah Vaughn, Eddie Palmieri, B.I.G., De La Soul; the list is truly incessant.

New York has never ended its tradition of birthing great artists, especially in the realms of rock. New bands such as TV on the Radio, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Virgins, and Vampire Weekend all represent the vanguard for NYC based rock. Of all these truly outstanding NYC indie rock bands, Vampire Weekend continues to be one of my genuine favorites. I love all of NYC’s new indie rock mainstays, but it was something about Vampire Weekend’s youthful, energetic, bouncy sound that I just got hooked on. I think “A-Punk” has to be like my fourth most played song ever (on my iPod). The band’s Polo Ralph Lauren aesthetic is adorable, not annoying, and their songs are cleverly arranged and written. In the same vein as one of my other favorite bands, Bombay Bicycle Club (whose debut album you can find here), Vampire Weekend doesn’t try to be anything they’re not and they definitely don’t force their sound upon you. It’s no nonsense indie rock from a familiar perspective but Vampire Weekend seems to make their aesthetic refreshing.

The Columbia University classmates released their self-titled debut album two years ago, driving the Internet crazy with their ambitious self-produced product. They landed themselves on countless “Best of” lists and even got a couple of their songs in some major motion pictures. Their debut album solidified them as leaders in the current indie rock landscape mainly because their debut was elegant but youthful. It was an album you can just get lost in and subconsciously smile while you listened through. It was filled with undying energy. There is no song on the album where you feel like they’ve could have tried harder. The effort is noticeable in the sense that you can appreciate it, not in the sense that they’re trying extra hard to sound good. You can tell it comes naturally.

Two years after their magnificent debut, the band is back again with Contra. The lead single from the album, “Cousins” is in constant rotation on MTV U and I must say it had to grow on me. My days waiting for Contra were marred with the thought that the whole album would have to grow on me. I feared that Vampire Weekend lost their ability to let their music come naturally. Good for me, and you, they haven’t and Contra is an outstanding album.

The album starts of with “Horchata”. Before I go any further, Horchata is “the name for several kinds of traditional beverages, made of ground almonds, sesame seeds, rice, barley, or tigernuts (chufas)”. From reading the description, I can say that I’m not clamoring to go try it but I’m sure it’s delicious. Anyway, the song is extremely catchy. The sound never stops. The sound from the strings and what sounds like a xylophone are marvelous accents to a great song. Following “Horchata” is “White Sky” which has some lovely over-arching vocals on it. I still can’t figure out what the hell they’re on about yet though. That Columbia education is no joke. Next up we have “Holiday” which reminds a lot of “Please Destroy Me” by Get Set Go. “Holiday” is sort of a riffy, solid, steady song. “California English” has VW’s African influences written all over it. Just like the African music VW sought to imitate, “California English” bounces and churns at the same time. Ezra Koenig, the lead vocals man and I’m assuming lead songwriter, is a very intelligent man. Just chomp on this for a second:

Someone took a trip before you came to ski in the Alps

Your father moved across the country

Just to sunburn his scalp

Contra Costa, Contra Mundum, contradict what I say

Living like the French Connection, but we’ll die in LA

Blasted from a disconnected light switch

Through the condo that they’ll never finish

Bounced across a Saudi satellite dish

And through your brain to California English

No one sits inside a freezing flat and stays there ’til May

Leafing through a stack of A-Zs to surf the UK

Waiting with the wind against your face

And gel in your hair

Shivering in little undershirts, but don’t seem to care

Brilliant song writing it is indeed. The piano work on “Taxi Cab” is just as mystifying as Koenig’s excellent lyrics. “Run” has more of a “world” sound to it as well, which sounds a bit ambiguous but trust me on this one. The horns on this song are just stellar. They dance around Koenig’s lyrics like raindrops and the percussion keeps you genuinely interested in the song from start to finish. “Cousins” seems to be all over the place when you first hear it, but like I mentioned before, the more you listen to it, the more you appreciate its vigor. “Giving Up The Gun” is probably the most pop-ish sounding song on the album, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s actually a pretty cool song with the pauses and middle-eastern flare. “Diplomat’s Son” is my favorite song on the album, and I will admit it’s because of the M.I.A. sample. The piano makes an appearance here again, but the true shinning quality of this song is that the tropical style rhythms seem to guide you through this short musical journey. How, you may ask? They lend a meditative quality to the song, similar to dub. The final song, “I Think Ur a Contra”, is a fitting end to such a superb album. It’s the last page in the book, and Koenig makes you read it carefully. It’s like the eerie end to your favorite drama movie where you don’t know exactly how it ends. You have to draw your own conclusions.

And that is the one reason why I think this album is so great. It forces you to draw your own conclusions. You don’t listen to this album, you think through it. Many people would say that this album is good, not great. They would remark that VW is too pretentious and they’re coming off as assholes that try to hold their inside knowledge of their music over your head. To that I say, there inlays the beauty of the album. Contra is Vampire Weekend according to Vampire Weekend.

Even though every album I’ve reviewed on the site so far has gotten excellent scores, it’s not because I’m biased towards these artists given my past history with them. It’s just because they’re so damn good. I give Contra five Polo logos out of five.

(Apparently, the TIs that run the circus music biz aren’t rich enough happy with my antics. Get it how you google get it.)

My favorite club rides bicycles in Bombay

You know that one album that you get and listen to over and over and over again until you know it inside out? Every word, riff, and melody is burned into your brain from constant repetition. No occasion is a bad occasion to play such an album, or at least you think so. You know that album you play so much that you get sick of it and the songs get slower and less intricate until you revisit it a week later and start the cycle all over again? That album for me right now is the Bombay Bicycle Club’s debut album “I Had The Blues But Shook Them Loose”. It’s truly an excellent album and probably my favorite of the year (depending on my mood it even edges out Raekwon’s Cuban Linx II).

I first heard the North London band on a well crafted Indie Rock playlist I snapped up on the internet. The song I heard was called “How Are You” which was released on the “How We Are” EP in October ’07. I had been listening to the song since about the beginning of ’09. It’s a really great song. The song is big, but focused. Lots of sound in your ear, but it’s not harsh. So, I went most of the year listening to this one song, and I finally figured that I should do some more research on the band. I found out that they released their debut album in July ’09 and I quickly procured it. The first listen I gave it was non stop. I’ve listened to thousands of albums in bits and pieces until I finally gave them a straight through listen but BBC got the straight listen immediately. Every song on the album brings something different to the table. It’s just so smooth and polished. The bass lines are just so nice and groovy and the songwriting as well as the vocals from lead singer Jack Steadman are spectacular. When the band gets heavy and loud, it’s never too much and when the band gets soft and light, it’s never too little. In a alternative rock market where gimmicks are slickly packaged and many follow a “weirder is better” mantra, BBC is a gem. It’s straight forward creativity, no bullshit. Usually I would go down the list and describe every song, but there is just no use. I love them all. As a matter of fact, BBC captures something that many artist haven’t been able to do lately and that is put together a collection of songs on an album that feel connected and can be recognized as parts of a whole instead of individual pieces living together on wax. That type of continuity is not only what makes BBC such an enjoyable band, but what makes their album such a delight to listen to as well.

Below is the first BBC song I heard and my favorite off the debut album as well as a download link for the album.

Download “I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose” here

Boys Noize “Power” Album review

Electro house music is filled with upcoming DJs and artists that are really pushing the musical limits of house and showing the world their unique talents. It seems that every year brings a new litany of talented DJs that wow crowds across the world on wheels of steel or behind the production boards. Artists like Justice, MSTRKRFT, Tocadisco, Hudson Mohawke, Tiga, Gui Boratto, and the Crookers are all examples of the new wave dance excellence. Another artist apart of this faction is Boyz Noize, a German producer and DJ by the name of Alexander Ridha. Ridha takes a no-nonsense approach to his music, which is evident in how outstanding his existing body of work is. Under the pseudonym Boys Noize, Ridha attacks dance floor speakers with hard-hitting electro house all while maintaining a classic German tinge. I’ve actually coined a term because of Ridha called “woofer assault”. ‘Woofer Assault” is when electro house (or music in general) hits so hard and is such a tower of sound that the speakers are getting beat over and over again to a pulp with the resonance of music. True “woofer assault” not only can turn a party out but also blow your brand new speakers. Oh, yes, Ridha is that good.

In fact, Ridha’s debut album under the Boys Noize moniker, Oi Oi Oi, released in 2007, is probably one of my favorite albums of all time. The album literally just smacks you across the face with the hardest electro house I’ve heard in my life. Noize’s debut album starts off with the banger &Down to lay down the foundation and just takes off from there.  Oh! Oh! is a certified club waker and ass shaker, Vergiftet is an upbeat German anthem that’s V-Dub worthy, Lava Lava just oozes dance greatness and Shine Shine is the quintessential “wifeing in the club” song. Hell, I can go on for days about how great every single one of the 14 tracks on Oi Oi Oi are but the point is that the album is ridiculously good. It deserves a serious five out of five rating. It truly is a hallmark of what electro house should be in the 21st century. But enough about Boys Noize’s debut album, how does their sophomore album fare?

Power Starts off with the upbeat banger Gax. Gax is really a great way to start of an album. It shows Boys Noize’s direction with their new album straight out the gate. The opening song points Ridha in a direction of more intricacy and less sap but through it all, the heaviness must remain. Kontact Me, the second song on the album, is a certified banger for sure. Definitely V-Dub approved. Kontact Me is a song that I can see being used to bridge two different philosophies in a mix but it can unquestionably stand alone and get asses moving. Starter introduces a little more movement and jerkiness more in the vein of British products. Nevertheless, Starter, is 100% dance certified and woofer assault stamped. So much energy resides in this song it’s ridiculous. This is the type of stuff that made me fall in love with Boy Noize’s music in the first place. The vocal samples really ignite your soul on this one. From there we move to Jeffer, a slightly trancey song, but tastefully so. It’s a bit gappy and I feel like it could use more of that classic “German sap” that Ridha is known to use so well. Transmission follows this with a German to the bone sound that sneaks the woofer assault on you. The sound is very full and sappy which I really like. I’m also keen of the “rain drop” style keys they used in this one. Nerve is a forgettable song, sorry to say. Trooper even lets me down a bit by having this infinite build up that seems to go nowhere. Sweet Light is another song that I don’t particularly like. It gives a nod to old school club house and things of that sort but it lacks feeling to me. Drummer gets everything back on track with a nice build, climax, and finale. Think of Drummer as a great action movie with a full, developed, plot and lots of action (Not sex. Get your minds out the gutter!). Rozz Box is forgettable as well. Nott is also a bit trancey like Jeffer but it is a fucking BANGER. It’s probably the highest level of woofer assault on the album. This song is certified to be blasted out of any vehicle with four wheels at nonsensical volumes. The finale is Heart Attack, which is very sensual and emotional. It is a very deep song that has a funny way of seeping into your soul. I think it sets the overall tone of this album as being mature than Oi Oi Oi.

Despite the fact that Power is a more mature album than Ridha’s debut effort under the Boys Noize mantra, it isn’t better than his debut effort. With that being said, Power is still an outstanding four and a half star album for sure. It’s just a step behind that wow factor that Oi Oi Oi had and it’s making me discount Ridha half a star. But, even though it doesn’t out assault Oi Oi Oi, it is still a MUST have for any electro house fans and just house fans in general. If you’ve never listened to electro house, this is a good album to help you get acquainted with the sound.

Undgrad Underground gives Boys Noize 4.5 VWs out of 5!

Psssst – Get the album here!

BONUS: Boys Noize’s Essential Mix on BBC Radio 1 (2 hours of non-stop music!!!!)

Stream Mix Here

un(U-N-I)formity

U-N-I

While searching for good music to download to expand my iTunes library, I stumbled upon an up and coming hip hop group called U-N-I. Hailing from the streets of LA, this group brings a much needed breath of fresh air to a hip hop community suffocated by the stench of garbage “rappers”. U-N-I is bringing back that old school hip hop, and for those who don’t know, they’re rhyming about subjects other than getting ass, cars, and ballin, in every other song they produce. They aren’t about killing “gangstas”, robbing people, or dealing drugs because they live in the ghetto. And they definitely aren’t doing it to create terrible dances that have somehow captured the minds of today’s youth. No, this duo stays true to hip hop and the essence that so many new artists lack. So before you go and question their credibility as good hip hop artists because of their lack of shooting, killing, dealing, or raping, remember that the roots of hip hop wasn’t all about that. They were once about the freedom of expression, using rhyming as their weapon of choice. So they once again prove that you don’t have to rep a flag to a quickly up-and-coming name in the industry. So without further ado, here are some mixtapes of this duo, and a recent single for your listening pleasure.

Land of the Kings – U-N-I

Official U-N-I Site <—- click to download the mixtapes from their official site!

Album Review: Lily Allen, “It’s Not Me, It’s You”

 

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.