Kate Nash’s new album, Girl Talk, couldn’t be any further removed from her 2007 debut, Made of Bricks. But those who liked the new direction she took with her 2010 album My Best Friend Is You, which featured raw songs like “Kiss That Grrrl” and “Do-Wah-Doo,” will likely appreciate it. If not, well, one gets the impression that Kate Nash doesn’t care. She’s poured out her heart and laid it bare in the lyrics of this album, which shows who she is as a person more than her previous records, and if you don’t like it, well, tough shit. She’s made the album she wanted to make and she’s happy about it, and happy about herself, and she’s not going to censor herself or try to rewrite her first album. Today’s Kate Nash is a brutally honest feminist and she’s flipping her middle finger at anyone who doesn’t like what she has to say.
The album’s opening track, “Part Heart,” starts off with Kate singing softly along to bass guitar, which she now plays herself, and a simple drum beat. “Now where my brain’s supposed to be there’s just some clouds instead, and part of me’s living and part of me is dead,” she sings. Halfway through the song raw electric guitars enter the picture and Kate raises her voice and delivers some punk rock attitude. “And it doesn’t matter how loud I play my music, I still feel the same,” she roars. It turns out she can play her music quite loudly. And how she feels varies from song to song.
“I’m a feminist and if that offends you then fuck you,” she screams during “All Talk,” which blends rockabilly, grunge and punk. “Action, action, words are only in my mouth,” goes the shout-along chorus. The album might be about “girl talk,” about Kate getting out what she has to say, but she still knows how to write a killer hook and the album is full of them. In some cases, the songs even feel like they’re composed of one chorus after another, sans verses.
Many of the songs on Girl Talk are explosive. “OMYGOD!,” for example, starts off easy-going with a funky bass guitar groove and little, prickly bits of guitar but once in hits the chorus the tempo picks up and it over-flows with energy. “O my God, I really, really miss you, I remember what it was like to kiss you,” she sings. “Sister” also begins with Kate simply accompanied by her bass guitar, but before long the guitars and drums strike and Kate starts screeching her lyrics. “You wanted to be my lover, but my heart was with another, I really wish that we could be friends, but I know that I’ll never get you back again.” These are priceless songs that unfold in a dramatic fashion.
While most of the songs on the album could be loosely categorized as punk rock, there are others that prove that Kate is breaking the mold, not adhering to the rules of any particular genre. “Rap For Rejection,” is, in fact, an actual rap song. It’s performed with guitars, bass and drums, but Kate’s spitting out her vocals in true rap fashion. “Take a good look and get your bits out, I know you may have heard my exploitation but this is what we call the male rejection.” Clearly, she can get as crude as the best of them and she’s rejoicing in her freedom of speech, something she would seem to value above all else, as demonstrated by her speaking out against the jailing of the Russian group Pussy Riot.
Another genre-bender is “Labyrinth,” which starts off sounding like something off the last Bjork album. It’s the only song on the album that even vaguely resembles the songs on her first album. “Trapped in a labyrinth and I just can’t get free, and I try and try,” she sings over simple percussion. It would seem that this song is an admission that she’s only human and still has her struggles in spite of her overall confidence. At times Girl Talk is a big fuck you to her critics but there are these other precious moments when it’s simply a confessional. The song “Oh” would seem to say it best: “Don’t tell me who to be, I don’t care about reality, I’m livin’, yeah, just for me, and not what you might write about my head and my body.” The Kate Nash of 2013 is a wide open book and you’re welcome to read. But once you pick it up, I have a feeling you won’t be able to put it down.