Oh Sheezus! She's back

Oh Sheezus! She's back
Lily Allen, British pop star.

Listening to Sheezus, Lily Allen's first studio album in four years, you get an overwhelming sense of familiarity.

It's like the 29-year-old sassy British singer-songwriter never went away.

Of course, we know that in 2009, she did just that.

After the release of her second effort, It's Not Me, It's You, Allen moved to the Gloucestershire countryside, where she raised her daughters, now aged three and one.

Emerging from her self-imposed hibernation, the youthful mum still retains the traits and flaws of the old Allen that so endeared her to her 4.6 million followers on Twitter.

She's till outspoken, opinionated, insouciant and armed with a thirst for satire. Motherhood certainly has done nothing to blunt her edge.

And it looks like music lovers are still lapping it up, as Sheezus has gone straight to No. 1 on the UK charts.

M checks out Lily Allen: The Reboot...

STILL A FEMINIST

Allen's old songs, 22 and The Fear, struck a chord with many feminists, with her wry observations on how girls are made to comply with society's standards and the mounting pressure of beauty and fame on the fairer sex.

In a recent interview with UK online publication The Debrief, she stressed her stance point-blank.

"Of course I'm a feminist... I hate that word because it shouldn't even be a thing any more," she said, adding that she was disappointed that in 2014, gender equality hasn't yet been reached.

"I get talked to in label meetings and by executives like a woman. It's demoralising and sneering, and we apparently don't have an opinion."

The title track of Sheezus - the album is out in stores and iTunes - sees Allen taking a bold swipe at misogyny, where she makes fun of how she's artificially pitted against the likes of Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry.

"Men feel they can still make women feel uncomfortable about themselves," she told Q Magazine, before going on to slam the media brouhaha over British celebrity chef Nigella Lawson's alleged drug use.

"I think if (Lawson's) husband were doing the drugs, it would be like, 'He just likes to have a good time.' But because she's a mother and she's a certain age, it's like, 'Oh it's gross, she's lost control.' **** you! I'm sick of judgment," ranted Allen.

STILL COURTING CONTROVERSY

The Londoner claims she has mellowed with motherhood, telling The Telegraph: "When I was doing (music) last time around, it was more of an ego thing, proving to myself that I could do it, whereas now...my drive is different."

But perhaps there will always be a part of Allen that thrives on conflict.

Her past spats and Twitter tussles with pop singer Cheryl Cole (she mocked Cole by naming a B-side track after her, prompting Cole to retaliate and refer to Allen as a "chick with a d***") and rapper Azealia Banks (Banks was the instigator, taunting Allen for having "ugly children" and "snorting coke"), have been well-documented.

Most recently, she was embroiled in a heated Twitter exchange with UK model Jourdan Dunn, who wasn't happy that she was namechecked in Allen's song Insincerely Yours.

A couple of lines from the track go: "I don't give a **** about Delevingne (referring to Cara Delevingne), or that Rita Girl (referring to Rita Ora), about Jourdan Dunn/ I don't give a **** about your Instagram, about your lovely house or your ugly kids."

When Dunn questioned Allen on Twitter whose ugly kids she was referring to, Allen quickly responded that the "ugly kids" line was actually a reference to her earlier Twitter row with Banks, and that she had used Dunn's name only because "Dunn" rhymes with "one". Dunn then sarcastically called Allen a "lil lyrical genius".

But never have accusations of racism hit her till she put out the music video for Sheezus' first single Hard Out Here, in November last year, featuring Allen surrounded by a crew of writhing, scantily-clad black dancers.

The video angered bloggers and tweeters, who panned Hard Out Here as a "denigration of black female bodies".

The Guardian reported that Allen denied the accusation and responded with a blog post explaining that her dancers were chosen "for their twerking skills", not the colour of their skin.

"It is meant to be a light-hearted satirical video that deals with objectification of women within modern pop culture," she explained.

STILL UNCENSORED AND UNGUARDED

What fans love most about Allen is the fact that she always wears her heart on her sleeve.

Before she got married to builder Sam Cooper, 35, she was brutally honest about her heady days of drugs, alcohol and unprotected sex. (She claims to be clean now, having given up smoking, drugs and partying.)

Her penchant for sharing her personal life nevertheless seeps through in her new songs.

L8 CMMR - with lyrics such as "My lover, my lover/ Shoots and scores like he's Maradona/ Under cover, under the covers/ My man is a bad mother******" - is Allen's ode to Cooper's bedroom talents.

"He probably would prefer not to have songs written about his sexual prowess," she said in an interview with The West Australian.

"But that's what I do, I write songs about my life and he's a big part of my life - so is having sex. There you go."

Take My Place, the most tender, heartbreaking number on Sheezus, even addresses Allen's trauma of losing her baby son George, who was delivered stillborn, in 2010.

"I would trade everything that I have if I didn't have to hold my dead child in my arms," she told Q magazine.

This article was published on May 14 in The New Paper.

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