Lily Allen, No Shame (Parlophone) **

WHY are today's pop stars so self-obsessed? Alas this is the age of "socials", as Lily Allen, calls social media and there is no such thing as a private life any more. You live your mistakes, your misdemeanours, your misfortunes, your misjudgements, in the public eye, then write about them for that same public, applying a "who-you-lookin' at?" attitude.

Hence vulnerable/fragile/self-pitying Lily calls album number four No Shame and writes her Mea Culpa in the opening Come on Then, wherein she addresses slurs of being a bad mother. The sadness is, famous actor's daughter Lily had burst on the London scene in 2006 with a sassy disposition, a breezy ska infusion, a lotta lip and plenty of cutting quips with an eye for social observation beyond Lilyworld. She did indeed make you Smile, as she sang "At worst I feel bad for a while, but then I just smile," albeit while revealing mental health issues.

Twelve years on, Lily sings of not seeing a life of drugs, drink and sex changing, but the casual sex bores her ("Just something to do"); the drugs and drink don't work either. And nor, alas, do too many of these navel-gazing songs that don't make you so much smile as yawn. O, for more waspish lines to match the swagger of "I put that loser in an Uber".

Working with such collaborators as Fryars, Mark Ronson, Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig, Burna Boy, PJ2 and Cass Lowe has led to restless, shifting sound palette, sometimes on trend, but no longer distinctive, although Apples benefits from a simple strum.

Seeking to be "as truthful as possible", but telling such dull truths emphasises how far Lily falls short of the insights of a Joni Mitchell, Gretchen Peters. Aimee Mann, Beth Orton or Kathryn Williams. Only once does No Shame stop you in its tracks as Three turns tables to look at Lily from her three-year-old's head as mum leaves the house, goes off on tour, has a less busy social diary. "When things feel black and white, we'll do some colouring in," the child says. Trouble is, mix black and white and the result is grey: the colour of Lily's gloom right now when she would do "Everything To Feel Something".

Her conclusion to all this mithering amid the mothering is? "Have your cake and eat it". Well, that wasn't worth waiting for. Shame.

Charles Hutchinson