Kate Nash; merely her name seems to be a loaded term. On the one hand, she could be loved for her kitchen sink wit, her give-zero-fucks public persona and her commitment to individualism in the acoustic-singer-songwriter market. On the other hand, she could be seen as the apotheosis of the thankfully burst commercial indie-pop bubble, a snotty approach to the press and public, plus her idiosyncratic, inflammatory rhyming of “bitter”.
In any case, Nash is soon to be back on the music scene with new album, ‘Girl Talk’. It follows on from 2010’s ‘My Best Friend Is You’, a more experimental but less successful effort than her debut, ‘Made Of Bricks’. On her previous effort, ‘Kiss That Grrrl’ points the direction that Nash takes this time around: all things 90s.
With the 1990s having a moment in our culture (example), Nash has seized much of the superficiality of the time within her lyrical ideas and song styles, but has grasped little of the essence and context it was in.
Take opener ‘Part Heart’, a slow, sexy intro, somewhat comparable to the rehashed 60s-fandom that Lana Del Rey purveys, it gradually builds up into a driving, Hole-like number, with Nash‘s voice growing ever more spiteful. However, despite sounding like the 90s, it doesn’t do anything to make it new in 2013, unlike Basement‘s latest grunge opus. Furthermore, the lyrics are beyond banal; “And it doesn’t matter / How much I hurt myself / I still feel the same”. It’s hardly the political awareness of Bratmobile or the bratty enthusiasm of Yeastie Girlz.
Indeed, over the album, Nash follows the formula of her first song, with the most basic of variations. Take the jumpy bass and The Cure-like guitarwork of ‘Are You There Sweetheart?’, the acoustic strumming and crowd vocals of ‘You’re So Cool, I’m So Freaky’ and the Dinosaur Jr. drive of ‘Fri-End?’. On other tunes, she throws the experimental boat at and goes for all out theft; this can be seen in the treble-drenched embarrassment of ‘Rap For Rejection’ and the Imogen Heap-isms of ‘Lullaby For An Insomniac’.
Troughout the album, it becomes apparent that despite being the double-threat of a singer-songwriter, she really lacks anything to say lyrically. Perhaps you could put it down to her aping of the dejected, cynical 90s, or you could see it as a connecting theme of all her past records. Where once it was “stop being a dickhead”, now we hear a chorus where “feel” is rhymed with “feel” and “real” is rhymed with “real”.
Instrumentally, the album also falls flat. It merely sounds like the rehashing of influences as opposed to trying to better the acoustic-singer niche Nash spent awhile carving. Take a song like ‘3AM’; the simplistic string-skipping sounds like something Marr would’ve shat out on a bad day for Modest Mouse. Then there are the nursery-toy samples and spaced out drums on ‘Labyrinth’ and the droning guitars of ‘Cherry Pickin’.
It seems on ‘Girl Talk’ that in lieu of further introspection, Nash has gone for a persona of a moment in time. Despite this being a period of genuinely rebellious music, Nash fails to infuriate, inspire or ignite; instead, she just bores. For all of the exploration of the past, the music of Kate Nash in 2013 still isn’t up to scratch.
Written by Fin Murphy