With My Best Friend is You, it seems Kate Nash has decided to shy far, far away from the sweetly sung, Lily Allen-tinged ditties on her debut. Well actually, there’s nothing too shy about it.
The 22-year-old’s effort, released on April 19, finds the English songstress dabbling in the territory of defiant riot grrrl rawrrr, complete with crashing drums, jagged guitar squeals, and far more experimental, layered song construction.
Take for instance “I Just Love You More,” a slow burning, building repetition of the same line: “I just love you more than…anything.” As the cymbals crash and dive deeper with each repetition, the singer slowly spirals into jittering cries and guttural yelps recalling the Yeah Yeah Yeahs‘ Karen O until completely breaking down, unleashing wild cries of “Bah, bah, bah, bah, dah, dah, bah, bah!” It’s a briefly amazing moment–and more importantly, an introduction to entirely new side of Nash we’ve never heard before.
That’s not to say that there isn’t any trace of Nash’s initial sound that brought her initial acclaim back with 2007’s Made of Bricks. With songs like the catchy first track “Paris” and the album’s lead single “Do Wah Doo,” Nash’s album blazes with the sunny piano melodies, hand claps, and blaring horns that colored her first album.
Later on with “I Hate Seagulls,” Nash closes her album in the same way she did her debut: a simple, melodious tune–occasionally silly and entirely heartfelt–which finds the singer cooing softly about all the things she hates (among them, scabs and “rude, ignorant bastards”), but ultimately returning to the one thing she does like: “You’re so nice, and I’m in love with you.”
For the most part, however, Nash isn’t so sentimental on My Best Friend is You. In fact, she’s as scathingly to-the-point and jealous as ever: “Kiss that girl and I will shrink up and I will die / And I will think of a thousand ways that I can hurt you, and you will never touch my hand,” she promises in the misleadingly sweet, twinkling chorus of “Kiss That Grrrl.”
While the singer’s musical references may have matured in the past three years from Lily Allen to Bikini Kill, her lyrics still paint her as a young spirit–at times immature and often emotional–though now with more anger and angst than ever before. Give “Mansion Song” thirty seconds and see if your eyes don’t nearly pop out of her sockets as Nash recites a caustic, damning monologue about women who allow themselves to be used. It’s a must listen, but be warned–she’s pissed.
Then there’s “Don’t You Want To Share The Guilt,” which begins simply enough with a lonely guitar strum and some twinkling bells; the tempo building slowly as Nash narrates a sad, broken love story. “I don’t know how more people don’t have mental health problems / Thinking is one of the most stressful things I’ve ever come across…” she suddenly begins to utter above the swinging beat, diving deeper and deeper into a rapid-fire monologue about life. And dictionaries. And India and pyramids and swimming and shouting. It’s dizzying, but brilliant at the same time–a perfect representation of the very manic thoughts Nash claims she cannot control.
Nash’s newest release is for fans of riot grrrl sound and ’60’s girl group pop (and quite the treat for fans of both). While I can’t guarantee that fans of her first record will take to My Best Friend is You quite as kindly, there’s just enough of a hint of sugary sweet sprinkled in between the raging rawrrr of the album to please listeners of all types.