Kate Nash is a peculiar and wonderful kind of artist. When she debuted around 2007, she drew some unfair comparisons to Lily Allen, largely because their voices sounded similar (can’t imagine Allen belting out songs quite the way Nash does, though) and they were both MySpace sensations (ah, those were the days), and their songs dealt primarily with relationships. But where Allen’s songs were in a similar vein musically, Nash has always had the more vulnerable voice. Her songs echo private journal entries, and on Girl Talk, she takes that confessional aspect of her art and runs with it.
(Not that I’m saying Allen isn’t a decent artist; she certainly is when she puts her mind to it. But give me Kate any damn day.)
Where Nash’s Made of Bricks was exuberant and not a little bit naughty, and My Best Friend is You was more cathartic, a soul-baring brand of retro girl group punk rock, Girl Talk is an energetic middle-finger to failed relationships, fake friends, misogyny, and the status quo. At its best moments, Girl Talk reminds me of late 90s/early 00s riot grrls: Bikini Kill, The Butchies, Le Tigre, Sleater-Kinney, Guyville-era Liz Phair. Let’s break it down and see what each song has going for it, and what I took from each one. Also videos where applicable.
My take: Depression: I have it, you have it, we all have it. Now let’s deal with it.
Mood: Broody, shoegazing
Favorite lyric: "It doesn’t matter how much I hurt myself, I still feel the same.”
My take: Those people you hang out with, even though you know they are garbage. But dammit, you can’t help it.
Favorite Lyric: “You don’t treat me like a friend, yeah/You were cool...”
My take: Immortality. Make a deal with the devil. Live fast, die young--but why die at all?
Mood: Rockabilly, Surfy
Favorite Lyric: “I ain’t got time to die.”
“Are You There Sweetheart?”
My take: A song we’ve all sung when we’re at our wits end over an ex.
Mood: Juxtaposing sadness with upbeat music
Favorite Lyric: “You were always watching my neck from the back of the room/You were mine, Darling, once.”
“Sister” (My favorite track on the album.)
My take: Screaming “FUCK YOU!” while driving dangerously fast down an open freeway. And making out hard.
Mood: Balls to the wall!
Favorite Lyric: “She kinda had your smile...face/Another girl broke my heart.”
My take: Pretending to be happy when everything is shit. Longing.
Mood: Retro pop
Favorite Lyric: “I can tell all my friends are jealous of me/I wish I was in your bed.”
My take: You’ve just broken up with your favorite person. Stumbling drunk, you decide to get on the Tilt-A-Whirl.
Mood: Jangly and dreamy and a tad disconcerting
Favorite Lyric: “Don’t tell me who to be, yeah I don’t care about reality.”
My take: Going to your favorite misogynist’s home and kicking the shit out of him (or her, go with your fantasy) and totally getting away with it.
Mood: Grrrl Rawk
Favorite Lyric: “Words are only in my mouth/I’m a feminist and if that offends you then fuck you/Look how I got your attention.”
My take: Tired of trying to get through. Done with trying to explain.
Mood: Confessional, rambling
Favorite Lyric: “I gave you everything/You did not let me in.”
My take: Listen, I’ve got so much to say. I know we’ve had our problems. Just listen. Let’s hash these issues out, right here and now.
Favorite Lyric: “You are the one I think of on a night/It makes me sick the way we fight.”
“Rap for Rejection”
My take: Seriously, sexism and gender roles can go fuck themselves.
Mood: Abrasive and knows it
Favorite Lyric: “Are you trying to tell me sexism doesn’t exist? Well if it doesn’t exist then what the fuck is this?”
My take: Pure, unbridled homage to Kathleen Hannah. I like this song the more I listen to it.
Mood: Riot grrl crossed with 60s pop
Favorite Lyric: “Stop cherry pickin all over town.”
My take: Dammit, I just want you to let me in, but for fuck’s sake, how did we get to this point?
Favorite Lyric: “I want you to say you have no power over me/When will the maze fall apart?”
“You’re So Cool, I’m So Freaky”
My take: Oh, I'm sorry I don't live up to your expectations. Go be "normal" and "cool" somewhere else.
Mood: An acoustic ditty with an edge
Favorite Lyric: “Tomorrow is important no matter what you say/You’re so cool and I’m a freaky, freaky, freaky girl.”
“Lullaby for an Insomniac”
My take: Lying in bed, wrapped in blankets in the dark. Panic-stricken. My friends are the best; I’d go insane without them.
Mood: Acapella with a big finish
Favorite Lyric: “Another day goes by, and I don’t wash my hair.”
So how to accurately describe my feelings for Girl Talk? It's an album I didn't know I needed until now. It's brave, bold, outrageous and beautiful. And it showcases Nash's ever-evolving talents as a musician. Be sure to check out her website, twitter and facebook page. She's also on tour right now! I'll be doing my best to see her in Pittsburgh.
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