After dipping her toe back into the troubled waters of the music industry last year with the single Hard Out Here and a cover of Keane’s timeless Somewhere Only We Know for a UK ad campaign, Lily Allen returns from the joys of new parenthood after a few years out of the public eye with her newest single Air Balloon.
Taken from her hotly anticipated and as yet untitled third album, Air Balloon is another slice of the wry, culturally aware pop upon which she built her reputation. There’s nothing earth shattering going on here but it’s definitely pleasant to listen to and it straddles the slight stylistic divide between her first two albums. Replete with “na-na-nana-na” hooks and name-checks to various musical icons (“I don’t like dropping names but Kurt Cobain is all in my face/How the hell am I gonna tell him Elvis already took his place?”), it kind of just sounds like Lily-Allen-by-numbers. It’s fun and cheeky but still a pretty innocuous exercise.
Take away the gunshot samples and the loop from The Clash’s Straight To Hell and Allen has almost perfectly recreated M.I.A.’s Paper Planes which makes you wonder if she really, truly has something to say as an artist any more or whether she’s just gonna keep doing what she does. However, it’s nice to see her back on the scene without taking herself too seriously but if Air Balloon is an indication of what’s to come for album number three, fans and non-fans alike can rest in the knowledge that Lily Allen isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel, she’s just happy to be “Lily Allen” again.