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Kate Nash’s sophomore album a girl’s “Best Friend”

Marissa Frobes | Wednesday, April 21, 2010

English singer/songwriter Kate Nash’s sophomore album “My Best Friend Is You” dropped Tuesday in the U.S. An established starlet in the United Kingdom, Nash is significantly less popular in America. But she attracts attention from a young female demographic, and with her blatant feminist messages, she preaches about graphic, yet oddly relatable moments in the life of a 20-something woman.

Her first single, “Foundations,” debuted in June 2007 and reached the No. 2 spot on the UK Singles Chart. “Made of Bricks,” her first full album, premiered that August, and eventually rose to No. 1 on the UK charts. Several of her other singles including “Mouthwash” and “Pumpkin Soup” became top- 40 singles in the United Kingdom in 2007 and 2008, but received limited success in the U.S. and Canada.

A number of the same cliché themes from “Made of Bricks” carry over into “My Best Friend Of You” including friendship, feminism and being misunderstood. A few of the deliverances on the new album, though, are shockingly more vehement than any indignant ranting Kate Nash has done in the past.

One track, “Mansion Song” is seriously abrasive in an attempt to move women to become more than “another undignified product of society.” Delivered for the most part in slam poetry form, the tune alludes to rape, stripping and drug-use situations that women occasionally fall into when they accept societal stereotypes. It’s scary upon the first listen, but strangely strong and empowering when heard for a second time.

“I Just Love You More” and “I’ve Got A Secret” are two tracks with less talking and more passion. The former track repeats the four same lines, alternating lyrics with shrieks and screams and leaving Nash breathless at the finish. The latter psychedelically alludes to a secret that is never told, cleverly skated around by a few more feminist quips.

Besides these few audibly darker songs, the rest of the album sounds a lot more like the Nash that girls know and love. Her first single “Doo-Wah-Doo,” recently released on iTunes, describes the archetypal mean girl who overshadows Nash as they vie for the attention of men. Set to a cheerful melody rife with handclaps and surf guitar riffs, Nash shows her gained maturity in the past few years with her decision to “just read a book instead.”

Opening track “Paris” and the following “Kiss That Grrrl” are two of the most light and upbeat on the album. “Kiss That Grrrl” is reminiscent of Motown tunes of Diana Ross & The Supremes, but hilariously asserts to a fictional man “Kiss that girl and … I will think up a thousand ways I could hurt you.”

One may listen to the album and assume that a former boyfriend has viciously hurt this girl, with songs like “I Hate Seagulls” devoted completely to complaining or “Later On” which repeats “crying my stupid eyes out” more than 10 times. However, Nash has been in a steady relationship with Ryan Jarman, a member of the English Indie rock band The Cribs, since 2007.

Therefore, Nash’s album is more than an autobiographical form of catharsis. A relevant universality pervades the messages of the songs, encouraging girls to think highly of themselves, but still admitting to the self-deprecation every female acts on.

Her lyrics, though often times explicit, “don’t encourage sexuality and sexualization in young kids” as do the lyrics of girl groups like The Pussycat Dolls today, Nash said in an interview with The Guardian. Instead she said “it’s really important to be a strong role model.”

Any girl listening to this album will feel a sense of pride in their womanhood. Guys might want to blur out the words to Nash’s music, and hone in on the catchy melodies that are sure to get stuck in their heads. She sings “you’ll never listen to me” in the album’s opener, but you surely will once you pick out your favorite Nash jams from “My Best Friend Is You.”

Check out the music video for her first single “Doo-Wah-Doo.” The mis en scène of the love story is portrayed on an airplane in the late 1950s, dancing stewards and drinking pilots included!