Dearest ladies and gentlemen, popfools and popfoolettes alike, the time has come for us to launch a brand new irregular series. And that series is for us to run through those pop albums that we consider ‘must owns’. There are very few albums we own – and we own a lot of albums – which we would truly bestow this honour upon. Honestly, let’s think about it for a minute: most albums have a few good songs and a few shit songs. Some albums have mostly good songs but still don’t quite feel right, normally down to the album’s execution. One such example is Kylie’s X, a popfoolish album packed full of songs which we individually love. However the sheer number of producers ensures the sound isn’t cohesive and thus the album as a body of work is a jarring listen and thus ruins any sane popfool’s experience of the album. We’re not saying an album must have one producer – as will become clearer throughout the series, this is not at all the case for all our ‘must owns’, and in the case of Kylie, we don’t feel her work was improved on Aphrodite by having Stuart Price as executive producer to oversee everything – but we do think that too many producers spoil the album. Otherwise, messy, incomplete, or ill thought out campaigns can also ruin what would otherwise probably be a must own album. We are thinking of Marina & The Diamonds’ Electra Heart here. So with that lecture out the way, it’s time for us to unveil our first popfoolish Must Own album.
You Simply Must Own … It’s Not Me It’s You by Lily Allen
UK release date: 4th February 2009
Record label: Regal / Parlaphone
UK chart position: #1
Other countries it hit #1: Canada, Australia
UK year-end chart position: #10
Producer: Greg Kurstin
Worldwide sales: 2 million +
The long-awaited follow up to 2006’s Alright Still did not disappoint us. Lily Allen may have enjoyed her new found ‘celebrity’ status and tried her hand at chat-show presenting in an ill-fated move, but eventually she delivered the album popfools the world over knew she had in her. Alright Still was certainly fresh, playful and enjoyable, but it felt at times a bit immature. Lily discovered moody synths, grew up a little – being only 19 when Alright Still was released – and honed her natural songwriter’s talent with the release of It’s Not Me It’s You. Whilst demos of various tracks including ‘The Fear’, ‘GWB’, and ‘Who’d Have Known’ were floating around Myspace long before the album’s release, they only hinted at the treasures Lily had in store for us. It’s Not Me It’s You was one of the last albums we rushed out to buy on the day it was released, and listening to it in our car between sixth form classes, we were astounded. It quickly became the defining pop sound of 2009 for us, the yardstick for all new releases that year to measure up to.
It’s hard for us to explain exactly why we made such an instant emotional connection with understated tracks such as ‘Chinese’, ‘I Could Say’, ‘Back To The Start’, ‘Him’ and of course ‘Who’d Have Known’. We think their sound was somehow a reflection of our mood at the time of release. 4 years later we still deeply feel like Allen understands us. Perhaps that’s the key to the album’s Must Own status. Greg Kurstin co-wrote and produced the whole album, making it one of those rarities: a modern pop album for a modern popstar crafted by a close-knit and caring team.
The album has two missteps in the form of two poorly-fitting, mood-killing tracks which we have never liked. Crucially, then, is the fact that the two B-sides of ‘Fag Hag’ and ‘Kabul Shit’ are wonderful and can perfectly slot into the album without seeming out of place. The visuals for the campaign were just perfect – despite the album booklet containing less pictures than we would have liked – and really formed the cherry on the top for this Must Own album.