Kate Nash keeps quirky British vocals alive in her debut album

With 2007 gone forever, one might think it’s time to wind up the latest British Invasion, which included mostly female artists such as the hot mess Ms. Amy Winehouse and “Oops-I’m-Pregnant” Lily Allen, as well as many neo-new-wave bands such as Klaxons. But to do so would be to act far too quickly.

Kate Nash, the newest export from the land of afternoon tea and odd insults, is ready to claim her place in the American music market with her debut album “Made of Bricks,” released in the States on Jan. 8 on Fiction Records. The album, which was released in the UK and Canada back in August, has already reached the No. 1 position on the UK pop charts, and has the potential to do the same in the United States.

Taking a note or two from her contemporary (and personal friend) Lily Allen, Nash’s songwriting wonderfully simplifies incredibly complex and awkward events, usually situated around boy troubles of some sort.

The first single, “Foundations,” is a flustered tale of a Thursday night at the pub gone entirely wrong. Much like Allen, Nash occasionally drops into her regular speaking voice within the verses to put in lines such as: “Then I’ll use that voice that you find annoying / And say something like / ‘Intelligent input darling / Why don’t you just have another beer then?'” making the song immediately personable and true-to-life.

The sheer catchiness of the chorus is what truly propels the song, though, and unlike New Yorker (via Russia) Regina Spektor, Nash doesn’t rely on her piano skills to push her music forward. And frankly, the way she says “can’t” as “kahnt” in her English accent makes the song an instant hit with easily-charmed Americans.

The second track, “Mouthwash,” is quite similar to “Foundations,” minus a bit of the catchiness, but exposes a softer side of Nash, one that actually seems to care what other people think of her. The chorus of the song could use some work, as the repeating of “I use mouthwash/ sometimes I floss/ I’ve got a family/ and I drink cups of tea,” grows a bit old by the third go-around. Nonetheless, the quaint British-ness of it all makes the song enjoyable.

Since by this point we’ve established that Kate Nash is a machine fueled mostly by kitsch, it is no surprise that the song titles on the album alone are worth a good laugh. In addition to “D-khead,” the chorus of which just repeats “what you being a d-khead for? / stop being a d-khead,” Nash also offers a ditty simply called “S-t Song.”

Surprisingly enough, “S-t Song” is one of the best tunes on the album, relying more on musicality than repeated vocal lines. The drumbeat, provided by a 1990’s Casio keyboard drum loop, is fleshed out by swooping synth lines that are reminiscent of The Buggles “Video Killed the Radio Star.”

Maybe it’s a leap to say that “S-t Song” isn’t propelled by a vocal line repeated ad nauseum, because (big surprise!) it most certainly is. For that matter, every track on “Brick Houses” is based upon a repeated string of syllables in a cockney British accent. That is not to say that the songs cannot stand on their own as enjoyable four-minute pieces, but rather it would have been nice to see Nash try to branch out beyond her facade of bitchy young British girl cuteness.

Taking this digression one step further, it should be the hope of most music fans that the female British stars of the day, Winehouse, Allen and now Nash, all try to do a bit more with their sophomore albums. The true test of artistic merit is their ability to reinvent themselves anew, and at the moment it seems that Kate Nash has the most potential for growth in whichever direction she may choose.


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