(Regal Zonophone Records)
If I'm proud of OutsideLeft about anything, it's how the writers here are able to spot a trend 100-yards away, cherry-pick them out of obscurity, give it a quick write up and then put it on the shelf, forget all about it, only to wave our scepter over the next "Next Big Thing ¬©" we deem important.
We've called out loads of trends plenty of times before: The rise of the Artic Monkeys, the fall of the Artic Monkeys, the Pipettes, the standing silicon turkey baster-- I could go on...br />
Which brings me to Lily Allen, the ska-lite revivalist who's single-handedly turned even the bitterest hipster into gushing schoolgirls. Our Kirk Lake brought Allen to everyone's attention this past July when he was one of the lucky 80 or so who crammed into Rough Trade's basement in Covent Garden to witness her small karaoke affair.
Naturally, this review is for our readers in the States as Allen's debut LP was released in the UK on July 14, 2006 (and has subsequently gone platinum). So let's get it out of the way now‚ÄîAlright, Still is fucking charming, brilliant even. Not a sour track on the disc, even when things get a little sticky-sweet for its own good (schoolgirl lyrics are mostly to blame in this case).
The LP kicks off with Smile, a lovely summertime single aided by vintage Trenchtown-inspired piano riff by Jackie Mittoo of the Soul Brothers. It's the kind of track that an artist is rarely able to best, within the album or their career, but Allen follows up like a champ with "Knock 'em Out" and "LDN" (the latter gets treatment with a bouncy sample of "Reggae Merengue" written by Arthur "Duke" Reid.
And the tracks go on, each as adorable as the next. Even the last track on the UK version, "Alfie" (the US version will get two b-sides in January) is formed around Sandie Shaw's "Puppet on a String"- - almost criminally so to the point of blasphemy, but again, Lily Allen is so charming about the swipe, all is forgiven.
And that's really the only question with Allen's debut. Do old-timers like me only love "Alright, Still" because of all the trainspotter-eque samples and obscure references? Would I hate this LP if Allen and Co. (her production team, Future Cut) weren't as sincere about the music as they seem to be? Possibly.
This album truly is as close to perfect as it gets these days. It gives this chiseled old misanthrope optimism again-- sort of like the first time I heard the Cardigans before they got co-opted by top 40 when the film, "Romeo + Juliet " used "Lovefool." The rub is that the overuse of "Lovefool" turned every hipster off of the Cardies for years. Will the same happen to Lily Allen's who already has songs on the soundtracks of the worst show on television at the moment: "Grey's Anatomy."