Since her first album, headstrong pop urchin Lily Allen - still only 23 years old - has done a lot of growing up. Tabloid readers will be well aware of her personal troubles, from relationship splits to miscarriages, and 'It's Not Me, It's You' is symptomatic, especially lyrically, of those woes. As a result, there's barely a trace of the cheeky character of yore, which is a real shame; maturity is not a quality one necessarily wants to associate with pop music.
Nonetheless, Allen's turn of phrase is still occasionally gratifying. Her lyrical couplets marry cynicism with mirth ("I'll take my clothes off and I'll be shameless / 'Cos everyone knows that's how you get famous") in a way that none of her peers manage to even today, and there are several songs that are musically interesting, although lacking the diversity and 'fun' element of her debut. The Western theme of 'Not Fair' is a delight, as is the squealing, uptempo club vibe of 'Back to the Start', and the brilliant carnival pop-meets-Carpenters admonishment 'Fuck You'. Those tracks aside, however, it's a distinctly middling musical offering, with vocals and a soundtrack too smooth to provide some much-needed bite.
In a way, a more polished effort was fully expected of her second album. Does it have the same magnetism as her debut, though? Certainly not. And do we miss the cheeky, unpredictable Lily, the singer who prioritised having fun over album sales or being a serious 'artiste'? Without a doubt, yes.