Sheezus is pure pop. It’s fair to say that Lily Allen has completely abandoned the ska/reggae influence that made her hits “Smile” and “LDN” so addicting and unique. She hasn’t totally left behind her smartass, sassy persona, but much of it has been shelved for a sound that’s banal and imitative.
I really wanted to like this album. I’ve always been a fan of Lily Allen, who creates songs that seem overwhelmingly relevant to normal people, exposing lingering feelings of resentment that only she would deign to shout out. The video for “Smile” is the easiest and best post-breakup go-to; on angry days I set the song “Fuck You” on repeat. Allen is genuinely clever, sassy and funny. Her raging tongue is tempered by her witty and intelligent nature. She’s honest about how she got into the industry, never denying her father’s influence in getting her a record deal. She’s a truly likeable person.
Sheezus has a few perks here and there. “Hard Out There” is honest and feminist, with perfect lyrics that show off Allen’s fearlessness. She vies for attention with subject matters that most artists only hint at, taking a feminist stance that will surely garner her favor with the ladies. Because she’s right: “It’s hard out here for a bitch.” The track drips with a lovely sarcasm, with lines like, “You should probably fix your face or you’ll end up on your own.” The music is electropop at its most conventional, but the lyrics make it loveable and humorous.
The name of the album is a mockingly clever response to Kanye West’s egotistical album name Yeezus. At the very least, you have to admire Allen for her balls. The song “Sheezus” is a stab at the world of pop culture. The first verse sees her “getting back into the ring” after her musical hiatus, having to compete with pop sensations like Lorde, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. The rest of the song completes her thoughts on the whole experience of being reintegrated into the modern mainstream schematic. It’s enjoyable.
Some of the lyrics are genuine and sassy, like those of the above-stated songs, but overall there’s an evident desire to sound like every other young pop star out there. It’s gross. “Our Time” isn’t unlike Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop” in applauding the world of young drunk people who just “want to dance the night away.” It’s becoming annoyingly cliché. “Close Your Eyes” is an excuse to awkwardly imitate Beyoncé and Jay Z’s love affair. “As Long As I Got You” would be better off on the soundtrack of a Disney Channel musical. At least half of the tracks on the album are unoriginal and awkwardly uncharacteristic of Allen, who is charmingly prone to flicking people off and cussing in every other song.
Although Sheezus doesn’t closely compare to Allen’s previous repertoire, songs like “URL Badman” and “Silver Spoon” reveal the sass and lyrical prowess of an artist. She may just need some time to get her inner-bitch going, post-hiatus.
2.5 out of 5 stars