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Three citizen critics offer competing takes on noteworthy recent albums.


1 = Skip it
5 = Try it
10 = Buy it

Illustrations by James Taylor  

Peter the Enduring Enthusiast
Immersed himself in downtown music scene during NYU film-school days. Now writes about baseball from Park Slope home, where John Legend, the Broken West, and Joe Strummer & the Mescaleros are currently in heavy rotation. First saw Lucinda Williams live nineteen years ago.

Jos the Prodigious Teen
Well versed in a range of rock tuneage; favorites include the Beatles, the Velvet Underground, and the Magnetic Fields. Disdains whiskey-fueled Americana songs about loneliness: “In my country, we drink tequila, and we never drink it alone.”

Sarah the Schoolteacher
Teaches fifth grade in Brooklyn; musical interests include doo-wop and lo-fi rockers like Yo La Tengo. Currently leading “Cooking Around the World” after-school program and listening to the British band Pipas.

Alright, Still
Lily Allen
Jaunty, piano-and-horn- filled debut from the phenom who’s finally brought her mischievously flirtatious vibe and tales of nightlife misadventure across the pond after big success last summer in the U.K.

PETER: Like early, ska-heavy No Doubt: buzzing, blipping instrumentation with appealingly casual, potty-mouthed vocals and some super-hook-y tunes. That’s a great pop package, but it’s worth repeat listening, too: The lyrics are specific and engaging, even if Allen isn’t exactly the underprivileged street-smart girl she writes about.
Rating: 8
Best Track: "Smile"

JOS: Being a teenage guy, I would instantly dismiss her boys-and-breakups clichés if it weren’t for the lighthearted ska and reggae backbeats, which make the femme-power message a lot more tolerable than with, say, Alanis Morissette. Every girl in America 13 to 35 will love her, but I foresee a few male fans as well: Her music is just too easy to sing along to.
Rating: 7
Best Track: "LDN"

SARAH: After hearing samples from a few songs (not all of the album is kid-appropriate), one girl asks another, reverently, “Is this Barbie?” But Barbie isn’t nearly as clever as Lily Allen. The tales of lame ex-boyfriends and police trouble crack me up.
Rating: 8
Best Track: "Smile"

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