You’d be forgiven for not knowing this, but Lily Allen, the U.K. singer who first broke out in 2006 with her single “Smile,” is quietly working on her fourth (and first since 2014) studio album.
Back in 2006, when “Smile” was making rounds on MySpace and, eventually, onto the U.S. iTunes store, Allen was basically announcing herself to the world as a big, bright, sarcastic, and often hilarious voice in pop, something like a one-woman No Doubt, with the reggae-influenced sound of her debut album. But the career that followed shows she’s had some trouble settling on just one musical identity: Allen went electronic on her 2009 follow-up album, It’s Not You, It’s Me—and then shortly after announced she would be taking a hiatus from making music. Years later, she announced she was at work on Sheezus, her third album, and then changed her stage name to Lily Rose Cooper. The title track “Sheezus” is a kind of treatise on female pop stardom, but the execution of her idea of female empowerment had some major blind spots: She was accused of cultural appropriation in the music video for “Hard Out There.” (Last year, she apologized.)
Now she’s back to her old name, Lily Allen, and based on the slowed-down track “Trigger Bang”—out today—it seems she’s renegotiating her musical persona (again).
“Trigger Bang” has a slightly more of a hip-hop feel, with a feature from U.K. rapper Giggs (you might recognize him from “No Long Talk” on Drake’s playlist-not-mixtape More Life) and Allen trading in her bright, pop-y singing for something softer, a little more deadpan.
It also sounds like she’s grown up a bit. “Trigger Bang” is a meditation on the pitfalls of fame and Allen’s own journey navigating a young life in the spotlight: “Anything went, I was famous / I would wake up next to strangers / Everyone knows what cocaine does / Numbing the pain when the shame comes, hey.” The chorus might come across as sad, but Allen sounds more level-headed than ever on it: “That’s why I can’t hang with the cool gang / Everyone’s a trigger, bang bang bang bang bang.” Allen’s not a rapper, and she’s not pretending to be one on this song; instead, she seems to be taking things in a new direction, one that’s perhaps a bit more honest and down-to-earth than past iterations. Listen to the track below.