Kate Nash Kate NashMy Best Friend Is You
FICTION / UNIVERSAL Now that the Myspace fever is out, Kate Nash was aware that she needed to get away from the “good-girl Lily Allen” label that had been following her around since she hit the number one spot on the British charts in 2007 with “Made Of Bricks.” She could have taken the easy route and kept on going with the same pop music, that inoffensive adolescent stream of words and strains of piano with which she had introduced herself to the world; nevertheless, it seems that this young Brit chafes under the corset that she had put herself in. During her last live performances, she has refused to sing “Foundations,” which makes no sense if we consider that the song has been her greatest hit to date. Maybe renouncing your own triumphs is the “coolest” thing to do these days?
Along with Bernard Butler –guitarist and founding member of Suede, as well as the producer of Duffy and Black Kids, among others– Nash has let herself get carried away by the riot grrrl trend, and has soaked up the Sonic Youth sound to broaden the horizons of her own sound. These influences could have been a mainstream suicide of stratospheric proportions for our star, although the stylistic exploration that she is proud to present us with in “My Best Friend Is You” is the most striking surprise in a follow-up album that many of us thought would offer more of the same.
As if it were the latest album of one of the Ronettes, the shadow of Phil Spector’s wall of sound is much bigger at the beginning of the record, with the pessimistic “Paris,” and that single that gets more and more addictive the more you listen to it, “Do-Wah-Doo,” which The Pipettes would have killed to have had on “We Are The Pipettes.” And then there’s “Kiss that Grrrl,” where she once again shows us her sense of humour, before her tribute to Los Campesinos! in “Don’t You Want To Share The Guilt?.” And at this point in the album, it’s all been said, there’s nothing else really surprising in it, because even a song like “I Just Love You More” had already been circulating on the Internet for a few months.
We don’t really know if Kate Nash has been influenced by Karen O, Elastica, or The Breeders, but this saucy twenty-something has decided to show her cathartic side, fully expressed, precisely, in “I Just Love You More” itself. What we can be sure of is that during the gestation of her second album, Nash has considerably increased the number of art-rock files on her hard disk. She also continues with her insistence on songs with lyrics that can be summarised in a couple of verses –“Play,” a song from the first record, was already that minimalist– and she takes the opportunity to make herself over as a blatant champion of feminism like Le Tigre or Bikini Kill (the dreamy “I’ve Got A Secret” looks like a “coming out of the closet” confession). And there’s more: “Mansion Song” directly criticises the figure of groupies as mere throw-away objects (here Kate comes out with the vulgarity she has inside—her introductory discourse could get her into trouble with British censorship). And here ends the segment of the album where she reinvents herself with a more radical proposal, offering a glimpse of wide open spaces that few (not to say no one) would have guessed three years ago.
Accompanied by a simple piano (she’s very similar to Regina Spektor in “Pickpocket,”) or a Spanish guitar, in “You Were So Far Away,” (where the avenging feminist she has inside rears her head once more), Nash spends the last minutes of her new LP getting away from pomposities, embracing the “less is more” credo. She finishes off with a banal list of all the things she detests, “ I Hate Seagulls”, leaving endless questions hanging in the air about what course she will finally take with her coming work. Whatever it is, “My Best Friend Is You” will leave no one indifferent, whether they already knew her from her “hype” a few years ago, or whether after the fact, they’re hearing her simplistic yet sincere lyrics now for the first time.
Sergio del Amo