Kate Nash is an extremely verbose 22-year-old British singer/songwriter who just released her second album, the extremely verbose My Best Friend Is You, an album that’s long on lyrics (most of them exceptionally funny, tender and/or biting) and even longer on musical influences. Here, in her own rapid-fire way, is her take the album:
“How would I describe in a few words? Erratic, in the sense that I don’t really stick to one thing, because as a human being I go through different mood swings. Sometimes I want to do something raw and a bit more punk-y, like ‘I Just Love You More’ to ‘I Hate Seagulls,’ it’s a big difference … and fun, like, I like to have a sense of fun in what I write, and passionate, because I can only really do stuff I care about.”
The follow-up to Nash’s 2007 debut Made of Bricks (an album that was a hit in her native U.K. thanks to the success of her single “Foundations” ), Best Friend explores the same lyrical themes as her first album — love, sadness, mean girls, mean boys, her various imperfections and insecurities, BBQ — but it’s the music that’s undergone a drastic transformation. Working with Suede guitarist Bernard Butler, she’s crafted a collection of songs that are delightfully raw, rambunctious and ragged. It’s very much a portrait of a pop princess growing beyond her boundaries, and Nash isn’t too worried about who she alienates because of it.
“I think it’s good when people slag you off a bit. … I feel like I’m sort of a bit like Marmite, like, people either really love my stuff or they really hate it,” she laughed. “And I never want to be bland … so this is just sort of the record I wanted to make. It was really how I wanted to express myself and what I was listening to — a lot of riot grrrl, Bikini Kill and Bratmobile and Sleater-Kinney and also, like, ’60s girl groups like the Supremes and the Shirelles.”
And all those influences — and a whole lot more — are readily apparent on Best Friend. Whether it’s the first single “Do-Wah-Doo,” the media-baiting “I’ve Got a Secret” (which hints at a lesbian encounter and thumbs its nose at “uneducated people,” according to Nash), the snarling, strutting “I Just Love You More,” or even album-closing ballad “I Hate Seagulls,” Nash proudly and loudly displays her allegiances. But for all the sounds she packed on the album, perhaps the most stunning moment features nothing more than her voice — it’s the spoken intro to “Mansion Song,” a raw, profane rant against rock-and-rollers and the girls who love them (sample line: “I fancy the hip, rock-and-roll scenester/ I wanna be f—ed and then rolled over, ’cause I’m an independent woman of the 21st century”) that not only shocks, but hints that Nash has a whole lot more to say — and she’ll be saying it for a long time to come.
“Well, it’s a reflection on groupie culture, and these young girls selling themselves short and using sex as a way to empower themselves — I don’t know what they’re searching for; they must be feeling insecure to allow these men to disrespect them like that,” she said. “And then at festivals you see them and everyone thinks, ‘Oh, they’re a slag,’ or, ‘Oh, they’re dumb,’ and I think that’s sad, because there is a brain in there and there probably is someone who can do something really interesting and have an opinion and be smart and funny, but that’s the only way the world sees them … or something like that.”
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