Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bangers and Nash

As the latest chanteuse to emerge in a wave of notable singer-songwriters from Britain (i.e. Lily Allen, Amy Winehouse), Kate Nash's debut Made of Bricks is a pleasantly original and enjoyable listen.
Like Allen, Nash croons in a distinctly London accent, and although on the verge of cloying, Nash pulls it off by balancing the saccharine and the snark. On her hit single "Foundations" (which peaked at #2 on the UK singles chart) Nash shares a slice of life profile of a crumbling relationship in a comical yet grounded style. Nash precedes the catchy refrain of "I know that I should let go but I can't," with the lines "I'd rather be with you friends, mate/Cause they are so much fitter." And while the infinite Lily Allen comparisons can, will, and have been drawn, Nash's appeal and independence lies within her ability to self-deprecate. In "Foundations," aside from plainly dissing her boyfriend, Nash also admits that she herself is "childish." Another example of Nash's tendency to belittle and embarrass herself comes in the cheery and lyrically conversational "We Get On." "I conducted a plan/ To bump into you most accidentally/ But I was walking along/ And I bumped into you much more heavily than I'd originally planned/ It was well embarrassing and/ I think you thought I was a bit of a twat," she muses. In many of her songs, her stream-of-consciousness rants are hilarious and relatable, and feel like excerpts from her diary.
However the exceptions to this rule can be awkward and confusing, such as the love-story attempt "Birds," which, melodically, is sweet and tame, but upon further lyrical inspection, is contrived and cumbersome. Another mistake on Made of Bricks is the unnecessary album-opener, "Play." The lyrics: "I like to Play/ I play all day in my room/ I like to play." And that's it. The track is a random and out-of-place sampling of gawky vocals and grating instrumentals.
Luckily, for the rest of the album, Nash pulls herself together. On the standout "Pumpkin Soup," Nash finds herself in the midst of a delightfully danceable and radio-ready hop. The melodramatic "Skeleton Song" is an especially good track that climaxes in a well-choreographed melee of instruments. Swan song "Merry Happy," which just may be the best song on the album, is where Nash shows the most promise. Although it takes the whole album to reach it, the track is the perfect junction of her best elements. It is a bittersweet, catchy tune that sets Nash apart from her contemporaries and justifies her placement at the apex of UK charts.
Produced by Paul Epworth (whose other credits include Bloc Party and Babyshambles), Made of Bricks is a trendy success. It is hooky and unabashedly poppy, with a funny and light-hearted attitude that ought to propel Nash into the stateside charts like the rest of her Fem-Brit Brigade.

Top tracks: "Mouthwash," "Merry Happy," "Pumpkin Soup."

1 comment:

jadedconformist said...

Great review. She'll be on tour with my buds in the U.K. soon - around March I believe? Check out her cover of Black Kids' "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You". ;)