A Little Whine and a Moan
by Iryna Byelyayeva
Lily Allen’s debut album, Alright, Still, which was releases all the way back in 2006—a wonderful time when blue eye shadow and sneaker-dress combinations were cool—is so underrated. Alright, Still is so petty, spiteful and fun. The behaviour in her lyrics and the mocking cynicism is in no way a recommended mentality anymore but good God is listening to this album therapeutic sometimes.
Every song on this album could be a classic. I remember loving ‘Smile’ when it was first on the radio, not understanding the sentiment—now that I’m a big girl I can fully appreciate lyrics like ‘now you’re calling me up on the phone/ so you can have a little whine and a moan/ and it’s only because you’re feeling alone.’ I feel pure joy and, also some schadenfreude, listening to the various excuses Allen tries to come up with to get a gross guy off her back in ‘Knock Em Out’.
‘Friday Night’ is a great song. The beat is very 2000s—very driving around bored with friends and headbanging to Fat Freddy’s Drop, but the subtle, almost Lynchian motifs in the background take it to a whole other level.
I listen to Lily Allen and just wish I was the kind of person who could sing out ‘don’t try to test me cos you’ll get a reaction/ another drink and I’m ready for action’ and wash it down with an angry shot. Allen’s brand has always been ‘unladylike’. When I was little, when this album first came out, I thought she was just the coolest. I distinctly remember watching the live broadcast of Auckland’s Big Day Out and learning that she was so drunk onstage that people couldn’t understand what she was saying. She gave an interview after that and I was introduced to the idea of hedonistic youth.
‘Everything’s Just Wonderful’ is where this hedonism comes from. The mid-2000s was the height of Juicy Couture, ‘that’s hot’ and wanting to look like Kate Moss. Through all the nasty woman lyrics about fending bad ex-boyfriends off and asking for a little more of a dialogue in the sexual department, Allen manages to rap out some home-truths. ‘It seems to me,’ she chirps, ‘we’re on all fours/crawling on your knees someone help us please/ oh Jesus Christ Almighty/ do I feel alright?/ no not slightly.’
Everything about this album is so cheeky, so in-your-face, you can just tell she would have been such an annoying person in real life. But in translating her personality into music, with hints of reggae and ska, you get this fantastic album that just doesn’t give a shit what you think of her. The music is good, the lyrics are fun, she has a great voice. It’s song after song of tunes you can sing along to either when you’re feeling good or when you just want to punch someone but have to hide that feeling and smile along. It’s so frivolous, you really don’t get much like it anymore.
Iryna is a creative lady living in Melbourne, Australia. She is the editor of The Wall Mag and gets published here and there. She can be followed on twitter @irynabyel