stay i n d e p e n d e n t

Lily Allen: The highly-anticipated outsideleft review

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.

get the weekly Outsideleft newsletter
by Alarcon, for outsideleft.com
originally published: December, 2006
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 - esque samples and obscure references?
by Alarcon, for outsideleft.com
originally published: December, 2006
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 - esque samples and obscure references?

Lily Allen
Alright, Still
(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—Alright, 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."

Alarcon

Alarcon co-founded outsideleft with lamontpaul in 2004. His work for o/l has attracted the attention of hundreds of thousands of readers, oh and probably the fbi too.

more stories you really could read...


thumb through the ancient archives:

search for something you might like...


sign up for the outsideleft weekly. a selection of new and archived stories every week. Or less.

View previous campaigns.

Reading Burroughs Reading
The Road to Interzone Author Michael Stevens Interviewed by Paul Hawkins
Crying In The Cinema
Boys don't cry but Bruce Bailey does. Sometimes
The Results are in: The Outsideleft 2009 Top 20
The top 20 most well-read stories from 2009. They are all winners although, sometimes it just seemed like Alex V. Cook was slaving away alone in a dark closet...
Morning Tide
Celebrated New York Poet, Debra Ifill returns with her latest poem, Morning Tide
Cold Pissed Off and Waiting, The last time I saw Dik Guru
Dik Guru, Layla Tutt and Shameless Brothers are part of a stellar night of entertainment at the Chaos Acoustic Club on Sunday
Pineapple Head
More piping hot Dear Girl from our Erin Pipes - piping, Pipes - I didn't even plan that. Anyhoo, here's this week's collection of questions regarding love, sex and affairs of the heart
Some of our favorite things...