Motherhood and a period of domesticity don’t have to result in a mellowing of trademark sass and sarcasm; remember Roseanne in the ’90s? Yet if British pop star and inveterate wiseass Lily Allen scores with a fair number of saucy zingers on Sheezus, her self-proclaimed “mumback” after having two children, the laser-like focus of her post-MySpace gems Alright, Still (2006) and It’s Not Me, It’s You (2009) is sorely lacking, and she misses the mark just as often by name-dropping pop divas, crowing about hubby’s prowess, and bragging that she’s a “broadband champion, a URL bad man” (ugh). Just as distracting is the reunion with producer Greg Kurstin, who seems to be mining dated genre-hopping tracks (a little Zydeco, a little dubstep, a hint of reggae, etc.) that weren’t good enough to make the cut last time. Though some have found it cloying, the biggest step forward is the Shellback-crafted third single “Air Balloon,” an invigorating swirl of ’60s psychedelic bubblegum as reimagined by MIA, which one can imagine Allen singing to the kiddies, who’d most likely overlook the crack about her choosing Elvis over Kurt Cobain for a fantasized dalliance in the clouds. Silly? Sure. But it seems truer to where Allen is at circa age 29 then a lame jab at the current music industry like, “It makes me angry/I’m serious/But then again I’m just about to get my period.”
Lily Allen, Sheezus (Parlophone)
Rating on the 4-star scale: 2.5 stars.