September 27, 2007

Record Review: Kate Nash

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Kate Nash sings in hip-hopping hiccups. This (heavily London accented) Brit is definitely a flirt. Although she is anything but a sweetheart. In fact, she’s so critical of her ex-boyfriends that she quite honestly scares me. But only just a little.
On the first track, “Foundations,” Nash traces her failed relationship with a continuous first-person narrative — a style similar to some rappers, such as Mike Skinner aka The Streets. But maybe with her cute, almost campy style she’s a bit more like old-school goofballs DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince.
Just as the rap-duo often impersonated character dialogue, such as on their ’89 hit “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” Nash also takes a stab at acting; that is, by including dialogue in her lyrics. She sings, “Then I’ll use that voice that you find annoying and say something like, ‘Yeah, intelligent input, darling.’ Why don’t you just have another beer, then?” And again, “You said, I must eat so many lemons, because I’m so bitter. I said, ‘I’d rather be with your friends, mate, because they’re so much fitter.’”
On the second song, “Navy Taxi,” Nash opens up. The song could be mistaken for a sentimental piano ballad, but Nash manages to transform the confessional into a song with powerful lyrics that resonate. She avoids metaphors and simply tells about what happened to make her sad: “Rain spat in my face. Thanks a lot mate.
And I lost a tenner on the way. Thinking about it:
Did I spend it last night when I was drunk, and I wanted to get more drunk?”
“Navy Taxi” would not be out of place on a Regina Spektor album. Yet, Alex Turner could also morph Nash’s lyrics and melody into an Arctic Monkeys song. Like Turner, Nash has that uncanny ability to talk about an experience — converse through song — and make it mean something.
But lets not get sappy. On “Habanera,” Nash’s fingers prance atop her piano as her voice completes a full gymnastic routine. Jump, flip and twirl: “Da-da da dow! Da-da da dow!” She sure is an oddball (and not to mention a lot like Nellie McKay). She’s a character and a bit of a loon, but she already feels like my best friend — that quality to be so familiar, yet totally unique.
And if “Habanera” is Nash’s adventure to Wonderland, “Caroline’s A Victim” proves just how much fun Nash can be — as she rocks out to what sounds like a pre-recorded program on her Casio-synthesizer. Ersatz arena-drums whack out a droning beat, while Nash robotically announces, “Caroline’s a victim,” over and over (and over!) again. Really, it is sort of annoying. But, can’t a girl just have fun? And that reasoning generally sums up Nash’s attitude throughout: I’m smart; I’m sassy; and I’m going to do what I want. And, as for me — and for the sake of great music — I am sure going to let her.