The first words out of Lily Allen's mouth here are on the song "Smile": "When you first left me, I was wanting more/But you were fucking that girl next door." So yeah, she's got the cheeky British attitude that did so well for Lady Sovereign. But despite its lilting reggae beat, the song (a UK number one), sounds more like something off a Spice Girl's solo record. Even at her edgiest, Allen's debut tastes a bit like bubblegum. So how did Alright, Still turn up on all those year-end critics' lists? Credit Allen's cocksure cult of personality. Take "Not Big," where she taunts an ex by saying she'll tell all the ladies he's "rubbish in bed now" and, furthermore, "small in the game." It's her "Under My Thumb," only this time it's literal. Then there's "Knock 'Em Out," a beat-driven gem where she converses like The Streets while doing what she can to shake some loser out to get her number, cracking up in the fade-out as she tells him "gotta go cos my house is on fire." Like most cuts, it's a total smile whose pop accessibility, if anything, just makes it that much more subversive.
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