ARTIST: Lily Allen
RATING: 4 out of 5

Lily Allen – the unconventional British diva responsible for catchy hits “Smile” and “LDN”, that hit big in 2006 – returns this month with the followup to her debut album Alright, Still.

While her debut dealt mostly with inner-London city life and vitriol for ex-boyfriends, It’s Not Me, It’s You finds the singer at a more introspective point in her career, examining the world and her own place in it; a theme captured perfectly on lead single “The Fear”, as Allen sings “I don’t know what’s right and what’s real anymore”.

Musically, It’s Not Me is as strong as its predecessor – from the opening bars of first track “Everyone’s At It” it’s clear that Allen is determined to redefine pop music as it’s known in 2009, it’s thumping piano and bass driving a quick fire verse going after everyone and everything.

It’s a remarkable thing about Allen’s work that she’s completely unafraid to go anywhere with her music. Highlight track “Not Fair” is a toe-tapping bluegrass/country/pop fusion while later on the album, “I Could Say” sounds like a modern spin on Madonna’s back catalogue.

It’s funny that “The Fear” was chosen as the lead single, since Allen herself seems completely fearless.

ARTIST: Franz Ferdinand
RATING: 4 out of 5

Sticking with the Brits for the moment, Franz Ferdinand are back with their third album – a follow-up to mediocre sophomore release You Could Have It So Much Better, and a real chance for the band to throw themselves back into the public eye, reclaiming their place among the musical elite.

Leading off with first single “Ulysses”, Tonight sees the group re-evaluating what makes up their sound and introducing a new aspect to their sound; in fact, I would say it seems more like a tightening up of what made the group work to begin with, than any real growth in style.

While the knack for catchy hooks and choruses is still in full force – evidenced by the aforementioned lead single, as well as following tracks “Turn It On” and “No You Girls”, which both make the case as subsequent singles – the group has introduced a real dance-pop angle to their sound, complete with synth and disco effects underlining many of the tracks here. A great example is highlight “Live Alone”, which has as much in common with 80s New Wave as it does with anything you’ll hear these days.

A catchy record that you’ll be dancing in your lounge to. Highly recommended.

ARTIST: Various Artists
RATING: 5 out of 5

From the best of British to the best of America now, with this commemorative collection celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Motown Sound.

Founded on January 12th, 1959 by Berry Gordy, under the name Tamla Records, Motown Records has become more than just a record label – it’s become a symbol of both great music, having been the home of artists like Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie at various points in its history, and become a symbol of racial unity, providing a path for black-American musicians at a time of immense hostility towards coloured artists.

The collection itself is the epitome of great music; the tracks were selected by way of voting online , at the Universal music website, making this 3-CD set truly a record by the fans, for the fans. The finished product is the top 50 tracks selected in the vote, from the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” and Gaye’s “What’s Going On” to The Miracle’s “Going to a Go-Go” and Thelma Houston’s “Don’t Leave Me This Way”, and everything in between. This is truly a collection for any fan of the Motown sound, and one not to be missed by any serious music fan.