Kate Nash, ‘Girl Talk’ – Album Review
Don’t get on Kate Nash’s bad side. You’ve been warned. On her third album, and first in three years, the 25-year-old British singer-songwriter soothes the pain of an awful breakup by tearing through more than a dozen songs that, more often than not, sound like late-night confessionals she’s spilling for the very first time. It’s not like she can talk to friends about what happened. Turns out some of them haven’t been too nice to her either.
‘Girl Talk’ is an abrasive record at times, countering its riot-grrrl fury with Lily Allen-style Britpop. And Nash isn’t an easy fit to American ears that may find her baying accent, which splits the difference between Eliza Doolittle and John Lydon, off-putting. But since her 2007 debut, ‘Made of Bricks,’ a huge U.K. hit, Nash has soured to both the industry and its expectations. In a way, ‘Girl Talk’ could have just been called ‘F--- You.’
But it doesn’t start so confrontational. The opening ‘Part Heart’ begins as a slow crawl with mournful bass and controlled bursts of guitar feedback. Then a chunky riff ripped from Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ erupts all over the song, and Nash spills her heart, guts and whatever she’s been holding / choking down. “It doesn’t matter how loud I play my music, I still feel the same,” she sings as the guitars get even louder.
And then a slippery punk riff slaps ‘Fr-iend?’ with a dose of Nashian reality: “The way you dressed was more important to you than it was to being my friend,” she sings. And so it begins. For the next 45 or so minutes, Nash lets loose with plenty of girl talk that’s kinda bubbly, sorta mad and also a little less trusting. Or as she puts it in ‘Oh,’ “I am angry, confused, frustrated, tired and alone.” Plus, there are plenty of scarred vocal cords along the way.
Nash raids the closet on ‘Girl Talk,’ trying on different styles, including surf rock (‘Death Proof’), rubbery pop (‘OMYGOD!’), nervous indie rock (‘3AM’) and hip-hop ('Rap for Rejection'). It’s not exactly focused, and Nash isn’t really the artist to pull it all together. But like any good session of girl talk, the album breathlessly veers from one thought to the next with little concern that you may not be keeping up with all of it. Just give Nash a break – she’s been through a rough couple of years. And she has a thing or 15 to say about it.