Lily Allen

No Shame

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Sheezus halted Lily Allen's momentum cold in 2014. Delivered after a five-year hiatus, the album found Allen attempting to balance her personal and professional lives, not taking stock of how pop culture had changed in her absence. The opposite is true of No Shame, the album she released in June 2018. During that four-year gap, Allen was never quite invisible in pop culture, thanks in part to her presence on social media, an obsession that fuels a good portion of No Shame. Throughout the album, Allen adds references to smartphones and social media, keenly aware how pocket-sized devices unite the globe and flatten celebrity, turning unknowns into superstars and transforming icons into everyday nutters. This observation not only acts as a binding agent on No Shame, but resolves the lingering problem of Sheezus: Allen no longer appears to be sitting in judgment of the rest of the world. If anything, she's harshest on herself, particularly how she now has to make her way as a single mother, revealing a vulnerability she's previously taken pains to hide. Chalk it up to emotional maturation, the kind that comes after the world delivers a few surprise blows and, fittingly, No Shame feels mature with its glassy, multi-layered arrangements and muted rhythms. Hip-hop and dancehall still inform a good portion of Allen's music (Giggs, Burna Boy, and Lady Chann all make cameos) and she still has a way with sunny hooks ("My One"), but No Shame isn't a soundtrack to party. It's music for reflection, and coming from an artist who made snark her specialty, that's a step forward.

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