Release Date: Jun 8, 2018
Record label: Parlophone
After 2014's patchy 'Sheezus', one of British pop's most distinctive voices rediscovers her sense of self. Lily Allen’s last album Sheezus wasn’t terrible, but she’s recently admitted she “made a record for the record company” and felt she “couldn’t sell it”. No Shame, which arrives a little over four years later, definitely redresses the balance.
To download, click "Share" and right-click the download icon | iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS The Lowdown: On arguably her most polished effort to date, Lily Allen probes the highs and many lows that have followed her divorce from husband Sam Cooper. No Shame is in essence an exercise in vulnerability as she reflects on the pain of separation and the challenges of being a mother and a musician. Her willingness to be blunt has in the past led to divisiveness - take for instance the backlash to her clapback on toxic hip-hop masculinity, "Hard Out Here" - but with No Shame, Allen has found a topic most benefiting of her forthright and frank modus operandi.
Over a decade ago, Lily Allen burst into the pop mainstream with "Smile," a cheery song that wrapped its withering indictments of a straying lover in Jackie Mittoo keyboards and skipping-stone grooves. The combination of Allen's voice - which, thanks in part to Mark Ronson's retro-minded production, brought to mind a British cousin of hyper-feminine '60s pop thrushes like France Gall and Petula Clark - and her poison-pen observations about modern love proved catnip for listeners. She showed she was more than just a one-joke wonder with her 2006 debut Alright, Still, slaking MySpace denizens' thirst for the sort of Internet-endemic behavior that would later be dubbed "subtweeting" and reaching the top of the pops in the UK and the rest of Europe.
In the four years since Lily Allen released Sheezus, her ill-received attempt at pop-culture satire, the English star has been pilloried for her every misfortune. She's been targeted for her drinking habits, endured a very public breakup, and--most despicably--gotten blamed for the stillbirth of what would have been her only son. Tracking every sensational headline associated with Allen would require a secondary hard drive, as her public profile has always been shaped by tabloid interpretations of her private life.
It’s no great revelation to say that Lily Allen’s 2014 comeback LP ‘Sheezus’ was something of a misfire. Failing to match the deliciously witty nuance and cutting social commentary that had categorised her first two albums of superlative pop, it seemed that five years out of the game had cooled the singer’s precision-dart pen. Rather than cleverly soundtracking the often ill-advised exploits of her generation, it felt like Lily Mk II just didn’t really know what she wanted to say.
Listening now to Lily Allen‘s 2006 debut Alright Still, it feels almost innocent and naive, like watching a major film star’s early-career bit-part; looking back, you barely recognise the bright eyed young thing. On her first record for four years, Allen seems to acknowledge this, laying her cards on the table in a typically forthright manner. No Shame plays out like an audio diary.
Revisiting the pains of divorce, bad friends, addiction and loneliness, the confrontational goading of Allen's early Smile-era music remains, but on No Shame it is shrouded in the spectres of adulthood: fatigue, responsibility and retrospection. On this album Lily rips her skin off and shows us all the goo inside. Album highlight 'On Everything To Feel Something' deploys delicate piano arpeggios and sugary-sweet falsettos to cushion an upsetting story of a joyless one nightstand.
"I try to keep an open mind, I feel like I'm under attack all of the time / I'm compromised, my head can't always hold itself so high," Lily Allen sings on the opening line of her fourth studio album 'No Shame'. It's been a little over four years since the release of her last record 'Sheezus', and there are a couple of things to note; one, the singer's voice has never sounded so good and two, she doesn't give a shit about your criticisms. "I'm a bad mother, I'm a bad wife, you saw it on the socials, you read it online," she continues, laying herself completely bare from the get go, these lyrics soon becoming engulfed in a wash of sparkling and swirling synths.