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Lily Allen

Sheezus [Deluxe Edition]

Format: CD   Release Date: 05/06/2014
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At her best, Lily Allen operates just at the edge of a crowd, slyly and snidely passing judgment from a safe distance. That sense of remove remains on Sheezus, her overdue third album, but she's no longer an observer; she's an outsider longing to be inside. Blame it on her extended hiatus. Allen lay silent for a half decade, choosing to pursue a family life instead of the pop charts, but now that she's primed for a comeback, she's ready to ruffle some feathers, baiting Kanye West with her album title, sweetening M.I.A.'s style for "Air Balloon," and taking swipes at Rihanna, Katy Perry, Beyoncé, Lorde, and Lady Gaga on the album's title track. The subtext is clear: Allen is no provincial pop star; she belongs in the big leagues. There are glints of Lily's satirical swagger and casual craft, but Sheezus also finds her sneering at and borrowing from modern RB ("Silver Spoon," "Hard Out Here"), while also finding her writing many songs about her husband, warning all other females to not give him so much as a second look ("L8 Cmmr"). The best moments come unexpectedly: "Insincerely Yours" slides along to a yacht-soul groove, "Life for Me" cleverly twists Vampire Weekend's Graceland obsessions, and although the target of an Internet troll is beneath her, the barbs on "URL Badman" are sharpened. [A Deluxe Edition added three bonus tracks.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi

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