After a three-year hiatus Lily Allen came out swinging in November with “Hard Out Here,” a catchy — and controversial — single that snapped back at the sexual politics at play in both society and the music biz.
Now, with a new year, she’s singing a different tune, with her new single “Air Balloon.”
The song, co-written by producer Shellback — who’s worked with Taylor Swift, Pink and Britney Spears, to name just a few — strikes a markedly mellow tone, with Allen daydreaming about drifting away, ascending to pop music’s Pearly Gates and communing with Kurt Cobain over a sunny, schoolyard beat.
“I don’t like dropping names, but Kurt Cobain is all in my face/How the hell am I going to tell him Elvis already took first base?” she sings at one point, before inviting the listener to join her up in the clouds. “I’m not sure quite why we work all day/I’ve been thinking and I’ve got this plan/Let’s go, right now/Come meet me in the sky/I’ll be waiting for you.”
It’s a definite departure from “Hard Out Here” … in fact, “Air Balloon” is more in line with Allen’s recent cover of Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know,” which went to #1 on the British charts after it was selected to score a Christmas advertisement by UK department store John Lewis. And Allen seems aware of that fact; when she posted “Balloon” on YouTube, she made sure to mention “Somewhere’s” animated music video, writing: “If you thought the Bear and Hare was annoying, you won’t want to watch this.”
Both “Air Balloon” and “Hard Out Here” are presumably taken from Allen’s upcoming third album, which she’s working on with frequent collaborator Greg Kurstin. Late last year, a rep for the singer told MTV News she was “finishing up” the album for release in 2014.