Amid many controversies and commentaries since Allen first announced the release of Sheezus, marked by the first single, "Hard Out Here," the album has at last arrived. Although you may have already heard five of the twelve tracks, including "Hard Out Here," "L8 CMMR," "Air Balloon," "Our Time" and "Sheezus," you'll manage to remain pleasantly surprised for the most part. In spite of Allen's faint overexposure in preparation for ending her five year absence (It's Not Me, It's You came out in 2009), there's much to look forward to as you listen to these new songs.
Opening with the title track, Allen immediately announces her biting tone as she takes jibes at the biggest names in the pop scene of the moment, Beyonce, Katy Perry and Lorde included (with Lady Gaga thrown in for random good measure). In the accompanying video, a demonic looking Allen sings humorous lyrics like "Give me that crown, bitch, I wanna be Sheezus" intermixed with extremely uncomfortable ones like, "Periods, periods, we all get periods/Every month, yo, that's what the theory is."
"L8 CMMR," which you might recognize from Girls if you have a penchant for watching bad TV, follows with a more ska-sounding vibe--harkening back to Allen's original roots on Alright, Still. It transitions seamlessly into the ethereal sound of "Air Balloon," an escapist track that's ideal to listen to whilst in your cubicle.
"Our Time" is yet another single that's already been released, and the weakest one at that. With Allen's faint, non-committal vocals vacillating between confident and uncertain, "Our Time" is not the most ideal. Its video features an Alanis Morissette in "Ironic" type plot, with three versions of Lily Allen hanging out in a car. Luckily, the fifth song, "Insincerely Yours," makes up for it. Initially, the track has an almost Janet Jackson-esque circa Velvet Robe sound and then segues into a cheeky series of lyrics that indicate she's doing this whole pop music thing for one reason: "Let's be clear, I'm here to make money, money, money."
The album slows down slightly with "Take My Place," a sentimental song that may be one of the strongest indications that Allen wrote the album while pregnant as she laments, "I'd give everything I own if someone else could take my place." At times reminiscent of "The Fear," "Take My Place" is one of the most enjoyable tracks on Sheezus. "As Long As I Got You" follows with a musical background that seems like it might be on an Applebee's commercial. As one of Allen's most experimental (the term is relative) tracks on the album, it is also the most unlistenable.
"Close Your Eyes" has an ambient feel that slows down the pace of the album again. Laidback and effortlessly cool, Allen continues to show her shared obsession with Beyonce as she croons, "I'll be Beyonce, baby say my name." Next is "URL Badman," which pokes fun at assholes like me who type away condemnations of other people who make more money. A hilariously scathing image of the sort of bloke who lives in his mom's basement, the song opens with the sound of someone typing on his computer as he's being called to dinner. Allen eviscerates the archetype with: "I'm not a cliche, sittin' in my PJs.../I'm a big boy, I'm gonna write for VICE/I'm a broadband champion/I'm a URL badman.../I don't like girls much, they're kinda silly/Unless they wanna play with my willy."
"Silver Spoon" has an opening that channels t.A.T.u.'s "All The Things She Said" and continues Allen's continuous roll with ripping apart worthless people who don't work for anything as she imitates a trust fund baby with the lyrics, "Only here 'cause of my daddy." Subsequently, "Life For Me" finds Allen reverting back to the fanciful style presented on "As Long As I Got You," but manages to make it work because of the sardonically upbeat commentary on the evils of social media in terms of constantly feeling left out upon viewing pictures of other people living their lives. Allen sings, "I feel so isolated/Everyone there but me." This, too, was written in the wake of her pregnancy during a particularly vulnerable moment.
Concluding with the crowd-pleasing "Hard Out Here," Allen closes Sheezus on a high note (unless of course you have the Japanese bonus track version which features six additional songs) and proves that, regardless of her prolonged absence from music, she hasn't forgotten how to go for the jugular through light-hearted sounding pop songs.