It’s 16 years since the Avalanches’ era-defining ‘Since I Left You’. How can a follow-up that took so long sound so meh?
Kate Nash - 'Girl Talk'
One of music’s biggest mouthpieces adds the sound of Bikini Kill and Hole to her warm-hearted pop
‘WHAT’S HAPPENED TO KATE NASH?’ the internet wailed after she posted her comeback track ‘Under-Estimate The Girl’ (which doesn’t appear here) – a grunge-infused jam with a screw-you screech of a chorus that left certain corners of the web wondering where the whippet-tongued comrade of Lily Allen et al had gone. Well, she moved to LA, hung out with Le Tigre’s JD Samson, formed a band, grew up a bit, and decided to bring the flashes of punk influence we saw on her previous records to the fore. The result? An album that veers between the lush pop melodies of her last two LPs and a full-frontal riot grrrl assault. And it places its mission – to close the gender gap in pop music – completely front and centre.
Take the Hole-indebted ‘Sister’, a teary tale of a friendship lost, which kicks off with a ‘Doll Parts’-esque bass throb before tearing into a ‘Violet’-evoking screech of “I’M TALKING TO YOU”. Then there’s the seething Sleater- Kinney-meets-Bikini Kill wail of ‘Cherry Pickin’’ and the Cramps-infused rampage ‘Death Proof’. But for every shout on ‘Girl Talk’, there’s a moment of intimacy to match it. Take the acoustic confessional ‘You’re So Cool, I’m So Freaky’, which rings of Kimya Dawson, and the guitar strum of ‘Oh’ with its emancipatory coo “Don’t tell me who to be…/I’m living just for me and not for what you might write about my head and body”.
And while the racing hedonism of ‘3AM’ shows that Nash still knows how to party, it’s moments like ‘All Talk’ with its call-to-arms of “Action! Words are only in my mouth!” which prove that however backwards-glancing the influences are on this album, she’s still using her reputation as one of music’s biggest mouthpieces as a force to get people riled. And she’s not afraid to take on whatever bullshit might come along with that – “I’m a stupid whore and a frigid bitch”, she spits on ‘Rap For Rejection’, seemingly at online commentators. “Well, can you make up your mind and tell me which is which?/You’re tryin’ to tell me sexism doesn’t exist/Well if it doesn’t exist then what the fuck is this?” Suck on that, The Patriarchy.
“As an artist you have the power to change the world and change history,” she told NME earlier this year, speaking out about the plight of imprisoned Russian punks Pussy Riot. “That’s the point of art – freedom and being able to say what you think and care about.” Kate Nash doesn’t want to just talk about everything that’s shit in the world. She wants to inspire people to fight it. And for that, it’s safe to say the earth would be a much better a place with a few more Kate Nashes in it.
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