Best album of the year: No Shame by Lily Allen

Cáit Caden

Lily Allen returned from her four-year absence from the spotlight this year with her new album No Shame, which resuscitated her dying music career back to life.

The album differs from her previous work as it acts almost like a diary and provides a raw insight into Allen’s life, unlike the album she released in 2014, Sheezus, which seemed more like a platform to portray a stage persona.

The electropop album touches on controversial and universal themes such as marital breakdowns, the difficulties of being a working parent and substance abuse. What differs from every other ‘artist’ that tries to do this, is Allen’s connection to each of these themes. She treats every song like a personal testimony.

Allen lures her listeners in even more with the soft childlike tone she uses throughout the album which juxtaposes the strong adult topics she is singing about and the subtle electronic dance sound in the background, making her latest collection of music truly unique.

Allen greets her listeners with ‘Come on then,’ the opening song to No Shame which immediately sets the mood for the following 13 songs on the album. In those 3 minutes, 11 seconds she confronts those who “scrutinise” her “every move” on social media, the strain it has on her mental strength and the loneliness she faces in the real world.

In her song “Apples,” Allen sings intimately about the relationship breakdown with her ex and the lack of sexual connection between them. This song is then immediately followed by her emotive song “Three” where Allen translates the mindset of one of her daughters watching her mother “always off on tour” when she was only an infant.

This beautifully sung song about a child’s innocence in a difficult situation is then followed by one of the most personally explicit songs ever created by Allen: “Everything to Feel Something.” Here she invites the public to understand her mindset where she pushed the boundaries with people and substances.

The contrast between songs on No Shame, such as the mellow melody in “Three” to her reggae pop duets with Burna boy in “Your Choice” and “Waste” with Lady Chann, audibly illustrates to listeners not only the evolution of Allen’s music style but also her own mindset during the four year gap between albums.

Not only was Allen dealing with the everyday difficult situations associated with family life , she also had to mix this in with everything that fame brings with it. This included having a stalker for seven years who broke into Allen’s home as her two children slept.

Allen spoke about how she “cut herself off” from people and “slept a lot” and “cried a lot.” These emotions are palpable in her latest album.

From prom dress and runner wearing street queen with hits like “Smile” and “Alfie” (about her younger brother who is more commonly known as Theon Greyjoy in Game of Thrones) which catapulted her to fame, to the dark persona of Sheezus which dragged her career back down to earth, it is clear Allen is back.

Although, there are still remnants of her old music career heard in No Shame such as “Pushing Up Daisies” which bears similarities to “Air Balloon” in Sheezus, a song Allen said was her least favourite on the album,’ it sounds like we will be hearing a different sound from Allen from now on.

Lily Allen is performing in the Olympia Theatre in Dublin on the 11th of December as part of her No Shame World Tour.

Cáit Caden

Image Credit: variety.com