Kate Nash’s most recent album takes grittier direction

Courtesy of Fontana Records
Courtesy of Fontana Records

British singer-songwriter Kate Nash is whatever she wants —everything a girl should be. In her third album, “Girl Talk,” the BRIT award-winning musician presents 15 tracks ranging from punchy to pensive and demonstrates an audible shift in her sound toward a grittier feel.

After the success of her first two albums, Nash became known for the bright melodies and charmingly uncouth persona heard on hits like “Foundations” and “Do-Wah-Doo.” However, despite what its title suggests, “Girl Talk” is not to be taken lightly.

Nash blends feminist ideology and riot girl aesthetics throughout the album, and this mixture becomes evident immediately on the Runaways-esque opening track “All Talk,” which challenges society’s narrow expectations for female musicians. It appears that Nash isn’t the least bit afraid to get nasty, as her voice rapidly shifts from a silky croon to a guttural wail on multiple tracks to produce an utterly thrilling result.

The album stumbles, however, when Nash breaks her energetic stride to slow down on tracks such as “Labyrinth” and “Lullaby For An Insomniac.” “Labyrinth” is still an interesting product, but it doesn’t mesh with the rest of the album. “Lullaby” is hurt by its awkward structure — the first two minutes feature stripped vocals but the song ends with a symphony orchestra.

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The majority of the tracks is carried by a strong, steady bass line and decorated with gritty guitar riffs, punchy drums and lo-fi distortions. “Rap For Rejection” is a pleasant surprise — the perceptive singer calls out double standards and sex-shaming tactics in today’s society that claim sexism is over, all while rapping along to a catchy, bass-heavy rhythm.

Nash’s impeccable lyrics prove to be her greatest strength yet again, with verses that capture the essence of the many struggles women face without trivializing them. “Part Heart” and “Sister,” two of several standout tracks on the album, explore two different aspects of rejection: one from a lover and one from a friend. The latter’s verses are especially engaging, featuring lines such as, “She wanted to be my lover but my heart was with another/Yeah, I really wish that we could be friends but I know I’m never gonna get you back again.”

Using her voice and words to embody multiple facets of the female perspective on “Girl Talk,” Nash is the heartbroken ex, the confused friend and the frustrated feminist all at once.

From her disinterested drawl on “Death Proof” to her unapologetic shrillness on “Conventional Girl,” Nash’s “Girl Talk” is a perfectly executed response to critics of her previous efforts. She demonstrates the complexity and perceptivity female artists can convey when given the opportunity to fully express themselves.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, March 5 print edition. Alexandria Ethridge is music editor. Email her at [email protected]

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