Given the 700-odd post thread currently active over at ILM, it appears that Lily Allen is this year's M.I.A., albeit this time around, people are actually buying records. Which, if you know your British music press well enough, is exactly when the backlash kicks in. Take this Stylus review, for instance, a near non-stop mass of invective that starts out with the familiar tactic of calling her authenticity into question, hurling insults left and right, before finally ending by accusing everybody who likes the record as being fake. Well. Indeed. I've made no secret of being annoyed by the MySpace PR push that Allen has got through the press. She signed to Regal last year, and that album had to be recorded sometime, so it's obvious that her internet presence is only a little part of the story. Also, the MP3 blogger swipe is very misleading. MySpace seems to have a separate audience to the blogger crowd - ILM didn't start its Allen thread until March, for example, long after Lilly had started her site. The usual suspects like Fluxblog et al didn't pick up her like they did with Annie, Rachel Stevens and M.I.A. So why are we being accused of promoting her records because we fancy her? The rather rockist cries of 'she's not REAL!' sound hollow, as even the end of the review makes clear when it castigates listeners for listening to her because they appreciate the indie-cred she has. Really, we went through this last year, didn't we? Does it matter if she eat spaghetti-on-toast in a council flat, got embarrassed at dinner parties, or that her father is a leader of the Tamil Tigers? Or responsible for Vindaloo, I forget which. Sure, she manipulates her image, sucking up to indie readers in the NME, and going for the pop angle elsewhere, but that's a prerequisite for pop stars, isn't it? Madonna, Boy George, The Sex Pistols, etc…all masters of manipulating the press to promote themselves. Is she real? Does it matter? As for Alright, Still, it's a little like Bernard's summer girlfriends in Black Books. It's the sound of being outside and playing tennis in barefeet, and you'll stop listening to it in September. I don't think Smile is all that great, but the rest of the album is a curious mix of happiness and loneliness, mixed with humour and a vicious, cynical streak a mile wide. A perfect reflection of British life in 2006. It's not going to stand the test of time, she's not going to have a long and successful career, but for the here and now, it's a fine accompaniment to Rhianna, The Pipettes, and the new Xtina track.