» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Lily Allen
It's Not Me, It's You

Rating: 9/10 ?

April 10, 2009
Dan: I confess I love Lily Allen's new one.

Jonathan: yes. I. saw.

Dan: and I was sort of take-her-or-leave-her about the first one. I guess I prefer synth-country to ska.

Jonathan: I've only listened to "The Fear" which is better, but destroyed by the singer's personality.

Dan: you should at least enjoy the line about wanting lots of diamonds and hoping people die trying to find them.

Jonathan: no. It's all self-conscious attention-seeking game playing.

Dan: I wouldn't call it game playing. It's very Alanis. Who was sincerely wordy and self-impressed and not a hipster about it.

Jonathan: she's trying to have it both ways: having the fun of being materialistic, but making sure you know she's too smart to embrace it fully.

Dan: well Jonathan now you're just accusing her of being Kanye.


Dan: yeah, I was gonna say. That's very hip-hop.

Jonathan: no, Kanye genuinely enjoys being materialistic. He feels guilty about it.

Dan: I don't think she's actually indicting materialism so much as acknowledging and shrugging about it.

Jonathan: but Kanye doesn't try to pretend he's above it.

Dan: does she do that though?

Jonathan: yes.

Dan: I never really got why everyone thinks Lily has an ego. She's so insecure and confessional, she's mean to boys...but that doesn't mean she feels good about herself.

Jonathan: her dispassion is damning.

Dan: like "Smile" is pretty rotten of her and she knows it and "Knock 'em Out" is a character sketch. This album's a lot more sighing in tone. The song about the guy who can't fuck her right doesn't call him names, it just frowns and says, "you're really mean and unfair." which is a nice step up from "Smile."

Jonathan: no, "Smile" plays at being guilty, but really it's just unpleasant. She tries to excuse herself by acting aware, when her awareness is only insurance.

Dan: I'm not a "Smile" fan honestly, I don't find it pleasurable. As opposed to "Before He Cheats" or "Oops! (Hit 'em Up Style)." "Smile" isn't romanticized enough, it just makes me uncomfortable.

Jonathan: it's repulsive.

Dan: but it still feels affected, she wishes she could be that mean. Alright, Still is more like a diary of revenge fantasies than anything she'd actually do. I think she's pretty obviously shy as hell. People are mistaken about what an asshole she is.

Jonathan: I don't think she's anything. Even the Chinese-food/cups-of-tea/shy-as-hell thing is just an act. And she's a bad actor. She's just some boring rich bitch who made an album. She might have a personality, but it doesn't come through in her music. All you get is her playing a succession of badly written roles.

Dan: her being a bad actor would be a plus though because that would make her realer if it showed enough.

Jonathan: you don't see the real Keanu Reeves when he acts badly. You just see an unrealized character.

Dan: that's one way to look at it I guess, but I genuinely forget that she's rich. The new one is very... grounded. There isn't much class war in the one where she longs to eat Chinese food with someone. As for badly written roles, I like them being half-assed ideas she scribbles in her composition book.

Jonathan: but does she get at why it's fun eating takeout with someone?

Dan: she gets at the shared-something of it yeah. She's not in it for the hip downtown restaurants.

Jonathan: they're unrealized, not half-assed. She doesn't know what she's not telling us.

Dan: yeah but her non-persona and desperation to fit in somewhere is charm to me.

Jonathan: but being desperate to fit in is a persona. And Lily Allen can't do personae. Fine, I'll assault my ears so I can tell you why this doesn't work.

Dan: haha. At the very least you'll prefer it to the first one. Until it gets to the God song and "Fuck You."

Dan: I don't think she realizes how desperate she is.

Jonathan: oh fuck I hate her melodies. (5 seconds in) she has a cigarette. How very daring of her. She described the traffic as "Hell."

Dan: I think she thinks she's on top of something and insecure about it, but here I know she's flailing for something to hold onto her 15 minutes.

Jonathan: how very daring of her.

Dan: she's not daring. I mean if you're gonna get into it you have to realize her only fetish is for the ordinary.

Jonathan: she calls it "a Chinese." see she's English and working class! Who the fuck says "a Chinese?" you get Chinese. For fuck's sake.

Dan: careful you might end up calling her original.

Jonathan: and yes she romanticizes the ordinary in that obnoxious rich bitch slumming it way.

Dan: so she's the girl from Pulp's "Common People."

Jonathan: everybody hates a tourist. Yes. But she can't even give a good voice to the girl from "Common People." she can't even flesh out the real person there.

Dan: the rich bitch thing, where are you hearing that. Like is it possible to separate from What We Know About Her and still pick up from the albums. I admit it bugs me a little.

Jonathan: her obsession with symbols of the working class is that of someone who could not possibly belong to it.

Dan: are you sure though? Like what would a genuine working class person do instead? I think calling it "a Chinese" is awkward because she's awkward, not because she researched Eliza Doolittle.

Jonathan: like the way she sings, "the filth took away my license" - carefully setting her up as being someone who is 1) opposed to the police 2) someone whose disdain for the police is such that they use denigrating slang to refer to them and 3) is personally affected by the police. And she makes sure to shoehorn all of that into one lyric, so you know exactly how counter-authority she is.

Dan: right, but where's the blooper that exposes her there. And come on, rich people hate the police too. Amy Winehouse is DUI-tastic.

Jonathan: yes, but there's a big difference between hating the police because you feel they victimize you because of your place in society (N.W.A., e.g.) and because you just are an irresponsible driver.

Dan: I think by not wasting more than a line on it, she's not going as far as hate or anti-authority, she is just cursing them out momentarily because she's an irresponsible driver.

Jonathan: and why even mention that you've lost your license? People walk around London, even if they are legal drivers.

Dan: well that is calculated actually. She wants you to know she's Fucked Up.

Jonathan: it's a lyric shoehorned into the song solely to show that Allen is edge and anti-authority.

Dan: I think it is more flaunting pathos than edge.

Jonathan: exactly. And it's a pathetic form of fucked up. It's not fun fucked up like Brian Molko.

Dan: ha. That's what I'm saying though, I don't think she's a rich obnoxious egomaniac condescending to people... if she's to be accused of something it's parading her faults and not earning her sympathy. I'm pretty sure she didn't invent the faults though.

Jonathan: but her faults are sleight of hand ways to prove her ordinariness.

Dan: but she really is ordinary.

Jonathan: not in the working class way she wants to be ordinary.

Dan: being rich doesn't guarantee you an identity and she's lost like anyone. I mean do we really think she's less real than say, Beyonce. Who's rich but has some J. Lo notion of down-to-earth, for-my-ladies. Even though she's completely absorbed by her man and fetishizes independence. (Her man being her dad of course, not Jay-Z).

Jonathan: Beyonce doesn't try to adopt poses as a substitute for personality. Also, Beyonce can sing a song with a melody, a crucial thing Allen can't do.

Dan: well "Bills, Bills, Bills" was done by someone who's never paid a bill in her life.

Jonathan: yes, but "Bills, Bills, Bills" was convincing. I don't ask for authenticity, just believability.

Dan: I promise you you're missing more here than on I Am...Sasha Fierce. "Bills, Bills, Bills" isn't believable though, I mean it's believable they want a dude with Cash.

Jonathan: who listens to the lyrics of "Bills, Bills, Bills?" it's all about the beat. Allen makes her lyrics central to her songs.

Dan: are rich bitches not allowed to try for lyrics?

Jonathan: sure. Rich bitches should be able to make great lyrics. There's plenty about being a rich bitch that is fascinating (see Gossip Girl). There's even plenty about being a slumming it rich bitch that is fascinating. Lily Allen writes bad lyrics that always have a subtext she's not smart enough to hide.

Dan: I just find the subtext really interesting, how exposed she is.

Jonathan: but she's not exposed. The subtext is a pose too.

Dan: I don't know, that's a lot of accusations for a girl we don't believe is that smart.

Jonathan: my accusations against Lily Allen aren't complex. Just poorly expressed ;)

Dan: haha. I see what you did there. With Lily the key is to not really be bugged. Like I'm not actually that fascinated with her but I find her hooks and melodies breezy. The first time around they were too breezy and didn't claw me enough. This time they're not catchier but they're more enduring. So they don't have to force me to want to know them better. Like I couldn't hum you a note of "The Fear" without it playing.

Jonathan: the hooks are the easiest things to argue against: she has none.

Dan: that's a plus though. The existing hooks on the first album are annoying. Example: I don't like "Smile," which I could sing you right now. But I'd like to remember how "The Fear" goes someday.

Jonathan: this is not a good thing!

Dan: I don't usually make arguments against the catchy. But in this case I've been compelled to return a lot. Weird accomplishment for a pop singer. It's a five-or-six-listens album but people only give those to Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear.

Jonathan: at least they suggest there might be something below the surface.

Dan: well with this one it's melodies.

Reviewed by Dan Weiss
Dan Weiss is the music editor for LAS. Formerly an editorial intern at CMJ and creator of the now defunct What was It Anyway?, his work has appeared in Village Voice, Pitchfork, Philadelphia Inquirer, Stylus and Crawdaddy among others. He resides in Brooklyn where he enjoys questionable lifestyle choices and loud guitars.

See other reviews by Dan Weiss



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