Picture the scene: it is Summer 2007. The sun is out and every single person near you is humming Kate Nash’s ‘Foundations’. That was her prime, and countless groups of friends ended up screaming their version of the Cockney lyrics- “you said I must eat so many lemons ‘cos I am so bitt-AH/ I said I’d rather be with your friends mate, ‘cos they are much fitt-AH’. Her debut album Made of Bricks was released sooner than planned, and even more jealous and bitter songs were out there (there is even a song called ‘D**khead’). However, no matter the annoyance running through these songs- with lovely ones there too!- the music was almost always upbeat, with pulsing piano chords (‘Merry Happy’) or jaunty arpeggios (‘Mouthwash’) floating along underneath Kate’s mellow voice. Seeing her around the festival scene over the next year in her polka dot dresses and bold colours, she was generally a happy soul to behold despite whatever experiences made her write some harsh words, and she always seemed to have a smile on her face.
In 2010 came My Best Friend Is You, featuring a lot less publicity and a mixture of style between that of Made of Bricks and angrier Riot Grrrl influences. For instance, ‘Doo Wah Doo”s style speaks for itself, but ‘I Just Love You More’ is quite shouty and ‘You Were So Far Away’ and ‘I’ve Got A Secret’ are both quite sultry and almost in a half-voice. To me, the best song on the album is ‘Paris’, with its simple message of life and love- ‘you said you’d lend me anything/ I think I’ll have your company’- and catchy melody over a big accompaniment that is made to be played loud on a car stereo. It was, though unfortunate, not totally surprising that, after some moderate interest in ‘Doo Wah Doo’ and its airplane set video, no one seemed to care. Perhaps its mixture of genre was too much, or that sort of girl pop was irrelevant after the dawn of Adele.
Either way, Kate Nash had practically dropped off the scene altogether before this year’s Girl Talk, which takes the edgier stuff from My Best Friend Is You, steps it up a notch and absolutely becomes Kate Nash’s personal version of a Riot Grrrl album. Lead single ‘3am’ is a very fast paced song about missing someone, but most of the songs are about feminism and female empowerment, a theme that she has become steadily more vocal about. At her gig in York on 17/4/13, she paused between songs twice, once to talk about her late friend who inspired her to live life to the fullest while she has the chance, and then to talk about feminism and how there are too many divisions when everyone needs to be on the same side; however, she did also admit to getting jealous of other girls- as has been evident in several of her songs- which she says you’re still allowed to do. Girl Talk is definitely harder to listen to than her other albums, as the shouting has stepped up a notch and it is quite intense at times. However, it still has plenty of musical value, but not as much to my personal taste as either of Kate’s other two albums; even the more controversial points of My Best Friend Is You are still more enjoyable and easy to get into than this.
Ultimately, Kate still wears cute dresses and tiaras at gigs; if she wants to be a girly girl she can, and that should not stop her from expressing herself as she sees fit. As with many feminists at the moment, she may not be perfect at articulately saying what she means, but no one else is doing what she is with music at the moment and that should be valued.
For my review of Kate’s recent gig in York, go here: http://www.theyorker.co.uk/arts/music/gigs/13798-review-kate-nash-fibbers-