Kate Nash Girl Talk

Kate Nash – Girl Talk (Have 10p Records)

Kate Nash‘s Girl Talk– a record of friendship and loss? The album has been out for weeks now, and I still hadn’t written the damned review, until today that is. In some ways, despite Kate’s business need to promote Girl Talk around its release date, I’m glad about my tardy delay, as it’s allowed time for my feelings about the album to settle out. It’s also allowed chance for me to listen to it lots. And the honest truth is that I like it lots.

Making my feelings known has courted some controversy. There are those – usually up for anything – that find it ‘difficult’. One guy, a good friend of mine that runs a new music group on Facebook even took the unprecedented step of taking down – censoring –  the link I posted to non-album track ‘Under-Estimate The Girl’ when it came out last year. That he didn’t like the music might be his prerogative fair enough, but to remove the link? That’s some strong aversion. Others, whose opinions I equally value, agonise over Kate’s ‘authenticity’, and whether she is too unsubtly pitching for a seventeen year-old female fan-base. All of which leads me to ask whether is there any relevance whatsoever in relating the journey that Kate has come to get to this album? I suspect that such discussion bores the fuck out of Kate herself. Supporters will point out that even in her most plinky-plonk ‘Made Of Bricks’ days, there was always an under-current of independent punk spirit. All I can say is that it had passed me by at the time. I’m not alone – when I went to see her last year, I took the place of an erstwhile fan who had bought the ticket, and only after doing so, listened to her new material, hurriedly concluding that it decidedly wasn’t for them. The same happened with her erstwhile record company, Fiction, who asked her to tone it down, leading to her instead going her own way, crowd-sourcing and finding a deal with Fontana.

I went along to that gig, and found someone more or less unrecognisable to this ‘average Joe punter’, but at the same time I found her immensely likeable. I was glad that I went, as it helped make immense sense when the record finally came along. What she said on the night, comments about ‘friends’ that no longer were, having to move on, the sadness of growing past people, comes through in bucket loads on the record, and not just on the obvious tracks ‘Fri-end’ and ‘Sister’.

I’ve tried to think of Kate and her band without context and history, as ‘just’ another new post-punk band, but that’s a fruitless task. Despite the rawness, you can’t get way from from Kate’s writing chops; her ability to pen lyrics simply shines through. Don’t expect ‘pretty’ – tracks like ‘Oh’ are as experimental as ‘Doll Parts’ was for Courtney Love back in the day. There are moments verging on gauche awkwardness. ‘All Talk’ has a repeated shouted refrain, calling us to “Action! Action!” because “words are only in my mouth“. There’s even use of the dreaded ‘F’ word – feminism that is – “and if that offends you, fuck you!“. When she played ‘Rap For Rejection’ at the gig, she was prescient enough to say out loud “a white girl rapping about sexism – Radio One are going to be all over this shit aren’t they?” Even the most accessible songs, such as ‘Conventional Girl’, talk about feeling sick of being “the bitch that you think I am“. The most radio friendly track, and the one that harks back most to those days when she was clad in floral frocks and playing piano on TV chat shows, is ‘3AM’. Across the course of the album, Kate’s voice veers from recognisable, if sardonic, through to a strangled, drawled, yowl. The North London accent sounds like it’s been on holiday in Canvey Island.

I honestly don’t know if it’s despite all this – what’s the word: challenge – or because of it, that I honestly have to say that I love the record. When my iPod car adapter broke down, Girl Talk was the one album that I bothered to rip to CD to take on my journeys to work, for those moments when the radio became unbearable, or I just needed to face the day ahead.

Kate and her band are out on tour in the UK right now, playing some frankly tiny venues. This time I know what to expect, and you’ll find me in the front row. What’s she’s doing right now is simply too good to miss.

[Rating:4]

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.