Is it a cover of Ian Brown’s most famous post-Stone Roses song? Is it instead a re-imagining of the notoriously chilling opener from Pulp’s This Is Hardcore LP? No, it’s rather Lily Allen’s return to the world of pop, following what seems like an eternity of lounging in the middle pages of The London Paper and almost every page of gossip magazines. From the perspective of a relative outsider to Ms. Allen’s œuvre, the first thing I notice about “The Fear” is that it takes only ten seconds for her to utter the first expletive – “I want fuck loads of diamonds” – before the heart-melting guitar intro gives way to echoey stabs of icy synths and a fairly elastic bass-line. Musically, the song sounds like a cross between Arular-era M.I.A. and a Goldfrapp off-cut, which isn’t terrible, but is considerably less exciting than either of these influence’s individual material.
Lyrically, meanwhile, it seems that everyone’s favourite teenage tearaway is on some sort of health crusade, rallying against the press hounds who have criticised her for her well-publicised battles with dieting – “I’ll take my clothes off and it will be shameless / ‘Cuz everyone knows that’s how you get famous” and “I am a weapon of massive consumption” are pretty much the only meaningful lines in the entire song. Quite what the abstract Fear has to do with her body issues is left unclear, washed away by oblique references to illegal wars and men fighting.
I thought her music was supposed to sound like the love-child of The Specials and The Streets, no? Ah, it appears that she’s “matured”. Thanks, love, but I’ll leave her on the shelf to mature a bit longer.