Kate Nash has never been a sweet girl. Even on her debut album, Made Of Bricks, she was saucy and said whatever it was she was thinking without worrying about whether or not it made her appear proper and prim. That was Kate’s charm and what made her awesome and she ran with it for her next album My Best Friend Is You. For her new album, Girl Talk, her sound is more aggressive as she moves beyond the melodic pop sounds for her own riot grrrl punk record that sometimes sounds grunge or post-grunge rock like Hole but also sometimes like a Bikini Kill record.
This album starts out like a girl’s diary, hence the title Girl Talk, where Kate reflects on the issues that would matter to an angsty teenage girl, like on the album opener Part Heart where she sings “and it doesn’t matter…I still feel the same.” On OMYGOD!, she has a crush on someone whom she misses that feels innocent enough.
There are other songs that allude to her feelings which present a breakup and some heartbreak but there’s a lot of conflict as to whether she wants to want this man or whether she feels better off without him as the themes get heavier than teen angst and crushes such as her addressing sexism in Rap For Rejection.
The most effective song on the album is All Talk, with the lines “You said some shit about me/But I don’t mind/If you don’t respect me/all that means is that you can’t change me.” Like most of the rest of the album, it’s straight from the Riot Grrrl era but it’s a phrase that isn’t preachy or exclusive, allowing it to stand out.
Ultimately, the album feels out of place in today’s music culture, not because Kate shouldn’t be speaking her mind and putting those thoughts into song, nor is it because the third-wave feminist movement of the 90s is in the past and we should move on. The issues are definitely still alive and still demand attention. It’s because Kate herself isn’t convincing that the themes she’s singing about are what she actually feels. Plus, the style has been done, had its influence and has been concluded as new battles have formed and new methods have opened to deal with them. It feels like Kate is fighting the fight of 25 years ago, and not in a way that is nostalgic. She’s joining a movement that has already moved.
Girl Talk may mimic diary-styled essays and songs but diaries are often over-emotive thoughts expressed in-the-moment and can be all around messy and disorganized. Several songs work on an individual basis within Kate’s song-ography but otherwise, this record is an album for Kate herself rather than to satisfy any listeners.
1. Part Heart
3. Death Proof
4. Are You There Sweetheart?
7. Oh [featuring Siobhan Malhotra]
8. All Talk
9. Conventional Girl
11. Rap For Rejection
12. Cherry Pickin
14. You’re So Cool, I’m So Freaky
15. Lullaby For An Insomniac