First of all, some clarification about the whole ‘Late to the Party’ thing.
I like to imagine myself as a cutting-edge kind of cat, someone who’s down with the latest and possibly greatest, but the fact of the matter is that in a great many situations I’ve been trailing the zeitgeist by a few steps since…hmmm, the mid-Eighties, perhaps?
I say a great many situations. Not all, though. I like to think I’m relatively up to speed when it comes to certain things – film and TV, for instance. Even there, though, there are still gaps in my education. Gaps that I aim to fill…and lucky you, you’ll be there as that happens if you drop in on Remorse Code every once in a while. So stick around, it could be kinda interesting.
Back to ‘Late to the Party’, and the fact that I’ve often got a little catching up to do when it comes to music or literature or social trends or even delightful desserts that are available RIGHT NOW in the freezer section of your local supermarket (seriously, have you tried Borg’s Continental Desserts? Specifically the ‘European style ricotta with lemon & orange peel’? They’ll change your goddamn life).
Every once in a while (actually, I’d say pretty bloody infrequently given how often I’ve updated this blog in the past), I’ll jot down a few words in appreciation of something or someone who has tickled my fancy long after everyone else’s has been tickled. Your thoughts about this topic will probably have been well and truly formed by this time. But, hey, it can’t hurt to add another opinion to the mix, right? And if you disagree with that statement, fuck off.
First topic of discussion? This little lady.
I could take or leave Lily Allen when she broke out with ‘Smile’ a couple of years back. The song was an appealing burst of sardonic sunshine but it didn’t necessarily push my buttons in the right combination, and Allen herself seemed to be a calculated combo of cheeky and cool. Sure, I wouldn’t switch stations when her song came on and I was perfectly happy to visit websites that featured paparazzi shots of her with her shirt off, but buying her album? Pass.
Cut to…now! Okay, a couple of months ago. And ‘The Fear’, the first single from Allen’s second album It’s Not Me, It’s You, creeps in through my eardrums and starts sneaking around in my head, refusing to budge. Why did I dig this more than Lily’s previous work?
The main reason was that she had earned the right to convey the casual cynicism, the world-weariness and the mix of amusement and bemusement the song expresses. Having gone through various personal and professional crises of varying degrees of magnitude, having snarked and been snarked upon (snarked about, maybe?), having enjoyed and endured the highs and lows of the showbiz machinery, Allen could sing about the sweet superficiality of modern celebrity/notoriety with understanding and authority. And the fact that she added a wickedly understated sense of humour to her performance only enhanced the experience.
I like the tune, and I love the lyrics, whether they’re mildly oblique (“I look at the sun and I look in the mirror”), fun with puns (“I am a weapon of massive consumption”) or cutting in their simplicity (“I want loads of clothes/and fuckloads of diamonds/I heard people die while they’re trying to find them”).
ITEM! A smart chap named Chris Wade worded me up that the sun/mirror bit refers to Brit tabloids The Sun and The Daily Mirror. That’s pretty fucking clever, if you ask me.
My friend Justine has lent me It’s Not Me, It’s You (she also lent me Tim Buckley’s Greetings From L.A., and how the hell did I got my whole life without hearing this fucking guy? But that’s a subject for another Late to the Party), but I haven’t had a chance to listen to it properly yet, mainly because I’ve been playing Ladyhawke’s self-titled album non-stop for the last few days (seriously, have you tried this album? Specifically track #9 – ‘Professional Suicide’? Change your goddamn life). But I’m gonna give Lily Allen another shot, partly because she’s delivered a song I really like and partly because it’s hard not to like a girl who’ll voluntarily circulate shots like this: