Alright, Still

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Being, as she is, the daughter of prominent British actor Keith Allen, the cynics could easily dismiss the rise of Lily Allen as an act of backroom nepotism, talent-free starlet helped to the stage by the right connections. One listen to her debut album Alright, Still, dispels any doubts about young Ms Allen’s star quality. Possessed of a feisty wit and taste for urban storytelling that should see her compared to Mike “The Streets” Skinner, these eleven tracks of sunshine-friendly reggae pop cover topics including frustrating potential closing-time suitors (“Knock ‘Em Out”), being happy when your ex is having a bad time (“Smile”), and having a little brother who likes a bit of a smoke–and not just of the tobacco variety (“Alfie”). Wisely, however, Allen doesn’t let the grittiness of the subject matter tarnish the golden pop suss of the songs, a suite of gleaming productions by names including Mark Ronson and Gwen Stefani collaborator Greg Kurstin that take inspiration from at the lighter end of reggae and vintage rocksteady. Doubtless some corners of the press will pillory her as a poor role model, but there’s an engaging honesty to the likes of “LDN” – a love song to a city filled with teenage muggers, pimps and crackwhores, narrated by someone who’s cycling because “the filth took away my license”. Like father, like daughter. —Louis Pattison


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