Lily Allen’s quick wit served her extremely well on the British songwriter’s terrific albums Alright, Still (2006) and It’s Not Me, It’s You (2009) in which she moved through the London party world in her early 20s with a sharp eye and a sure sense of self-worth. Allen lost her footing with the inconsistent Sheezus in 2014, though, which used irony as a crutch and tried too hard to keep up with trends.
On No Shame, Allen’s done with all that foolishness, instead turning a blunt, unstinting eye on herself as she grapples with the aftermath of divorce. Her trademark bubbly pop sound occasionally appears, as on the charming Waste, which features dance hall emcee Lady Chann. But No Shame is mostly more morose and less fun than that. On the spare, keyboard-only Apples, Allen is forced to admit: “Now I’m exactly where I didn’t want to be / I’m just like my mummy and daddy.”
More painful still, the piano ballad Three is sung from the perspective of Allen’s daughters: “You say you love me, then you walk right out the door / I’m left here wanting more.”
No Shame succeeds because it doesn’t aim for uplift or intend to be empowering. It just tries to be real. — Dan DeLuca/ The Philadelphia Inquirer/Tribune News Service