Monday, 11 March 2013

Kate Nash - Girl Talk

"You’re tryna tell me sexism doesn’t exist? If it doesn’t exist, then what the fuck is this? How many boys will it destroy? How many girls and boys will it annoy?" sings Kate Nash on the feisty 11th track "Rap For Rejection" from her third studio album Girl Talk. This is the first album Nash has released independently. Her previous two efforts were with Fiction Records, and after being dropped she started her own label called Have 10p Records. Going independent and rock is a big step for an artist that successfully strolled through BRIT school and also picked up a BRIT award in 2008. The London based singer-songwriter is best known for her single "Foundations" which reached number 2 in the UK Singles chart. Like I said, it's a big step going independent; it's an even bigger step funding yourself, and a gigantic step to carry fans from an indie pop base five years ago to a punk / indie rock generation that will know of her past successes. What better time in 2013 for Nash to release this album, in-between the 1st anniversary of Pussy Riot's performance at Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Russia and International Women’s Day.

Fans shouldn’t be surprised at this album’s direction after the pre-release tracks "Death Proof" and "Fri-end" showed the developed punk sound. Nash plays bass on this album, a step away from her piano origins. Don't be too quick to judge Girl Talk, on the surface it's not the most appetising or interesting albums for long-term Nash fans, but the deeper you dive into the Girl Talk feminism, the confusion clears and turns into appreciation. Tracks like "All Talk" and "Sister" are loud, aggressive tracks with Nash shouting at times. This is very much garage rock with indie rock aesthetics. "All Talk" in particular has all the signs of a punk rock track, with the lyrics reading: "I'm a feminist and if that offends you, then fuck you." She was never the greatest of lyricists; however she definitely had her moments. The latter is a track of desperation and cries for acknowledgment. 

The album opener "Part Heart" has a fantastic build-up, introducing listeners to Nash's bass playing which is at focus on this track. Likewise, "Fri-end" builds and has Nash's bass at large. Many of these tracks could be radio-friendly singles on Made of Bricks if it wasn’t for the dominant bass and electric guitar. Strip them back on tracks like "Are You There Sweetheart?" and "O MY GOD", then you have prime tracks for piano accompaniment. It's not all punk, rock and grind on Girl Talk; Nash really has gone for a broad range of sounds on her third album and she keeps the soft moments enjoyable and relaxing, "Oh", "Conventional Girl", "Labyrinth" and "You're So Cool, I'm So Freaky". 

"3AM" is the album's single, raw guitars, easy, simplistic lead guitar and a vigorous bass riff that repeats throughout. Nash abandons her typical verse / chorus / verse structure for a trickling indie rock track. This follows with the upfront "Rap For Rejection", where Nash utilises distortion on her vocal with a speedy vocal which I wouldn't call rap, but it's not far off. She really has gone for something special on Girl Talk. There's nothing here that fails to excite on a repeated listen. The most adventurous track "Cherry Pickin" actually sees Nash shout with many effects. This is where we hear the punk in Nash take over.

Girl Talk will come as a surprise to the "Pumpkin Soup" lovers, it's unusual for an artist classified in the broad sense as pop, to release such intense music. Nash hasn't alienated her listeners because she's always been somewhat of a rebel. Watching her perform "Foundations" live with Billy Bragg in 2007 may open you up to her influences. Nash isn't the female equivalent of Bragg's politically fuelled punk rock / singer-songwriter. She's a feminist with a grudge, it's what attracted listeners to her in the first place and it's exactly what she's done with her third album. This is the direction Nash can thrive in. It allows room for experimentation and opens up a range of options for her to take in the future. Girl Talk has 15 tracks of girl power feminism, and the deluxe edition is rather appealing with tracks like "Free My Pussy" and "I'm A Feminist, You're Still A Whore".


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