Kate Nash – Girl Talk (Have 10p Records)
CD / LP / DL
Kate Nash is back with her third album and pissed off. Richard Gilbert-Cross listens to it for Louder Than War.
Role models. In the modern age they’re difficult to come by. Rihanna is seemingly no longer a safe go-to for teenagers but, then again, she never claimed to be. Justin Bieber’s feel-good vibes are dropping lower than his trousers as he attempts to grow up in public, and how can Coldplay’s chart-topping anthems define a generation? What then is there left for teenage music-lovers of today? Are squeaky-clean squawkers Mumford & Sons supposed to be the only parent-pleasing ones around? With great power comes great responsibility. Surely this extends to the stage also. So, step forward Kate Nash. She’s back and pissed off with the world.
Since her debut album ‘Made of Bricks’ dominated the airwaves back in 2007 Kate Nash has been busy. She released the underrated ‘My Best Friend Is You’, formed a Rock n Roll for Girls After-School Music Club in an attempt to inspire young teens, moved to LA, written extensively about the sexist music industry from the confines of her blog and set up a label, ‘Have 10p Records’. Around all of this she’s spearheaded a clean-up campaign in the wake of the London riots, written songs for other artists, called for the release of Russian feminists Pussy Riot and also found time to squeeze in a few acting roles, namely the Jeff Buckley chronicle ‘Greetings from Tim Buckley’.
Why, then, were people surprised when she suddenly popped up with ‘Underestimate The Girl’ last year? Whatever happened to Kate Nash? people cried. In this spoon-fed age individuals fail to realise artist’s activities are but a Google search away; and dutifully serving its purpose, the single polarised people. She screamed her way through a critique of those afraid to shock, those careerists who “play it safe”, unwilling to reinvent themselves and “mess with the rules”. It was bold, it was brash, it was Hole and it was brilliant.
That song isn’t included here, but what we do have is a fistful of singles equally on par with, dare we say it, Foundations. The album is solid, fresh and different; opening with a ‘lost-love’ spoken word growl ‘Part Heart’ she continues along a visceral path throughout culminating in ‘All Talk’s already oft-quoted, “I’m a feminist and if that offends you then FUCK YOU!” One feels that should be the tag line of the album – Nash relays this theme throughout, throwing similar sound bites in the listener’s face. It never gets too much though. She veers a little on the preachy side in ‘Rap For Rejection’ but she’s hurt, peed off at society and seeing as such morals are painfully absent in music, we forgive her. ‘3AM’ is a valid lo-fi anthem detailing all-too-familiar insomnia, resisting the urge to pick up the phone and tell somebody you miss them. ‘OMYGOD!’ is instant and accessible, Nash putting the bass down to work her way through a catchy ditty. ‘Oh’ is gritty and grungy – over a throbbing bass line she addresses her critics, “I’ve changed my face, I change all the time so give me space”. This all peaks with the album’s touching standout track ‘Conventional Girl’. Nash has stated she wrote the album’s lyrics two years ago, but the hurt and pain remains as raw as ever: “I gave you everything, you did not let me in… should I follow suit? Try and figure out myself? Or should I concentrate on myself? Or will that leave me here inside my low self-obsessed life?”
Kate Nash still sings about things people can relate to. She may have changed her appearance and traded a keyboard for a bass, gone from Pumpkin Soup to radical feminism. But never have teenagers (adults too), especially women, needed somebody of her mould.
You see, the brilliant thing is that she’s realised she has the platform with which to influence a lot of people and speak out against the wrongs in the world that individuals fail to do anything about. And that’s truly what songs are for, right?
Kate Nash tours the UK in April. See here for details and tickets.
All words by Richard Gilbert-Cross. More work by Richard on Louder Than war can be found here.