Lincoln Hall; Mon 3
Pity the fool critic who attributes Kate Nash’s makeover to her greasy rocker boyfriend, Ryan Jarman of the Cribs. Sure, some of his T-shirt stains might have rubbed off on Nash’s rougher sophomore sound, but the 22-year-old’s new and deeply personal My Best Friend Is You sounds like catharsis.
The Londoner’s teenage debut, Made of Bricks, spawned a hit single (“Foundations”) and a Brit Award for Best Female Artist, but the songwriter was made of frailer stuff. Worn out from a relentless touring schedule, the then-19-year-old turned to booze. Finally, in Germany, Nash found herself in her pj’s, vomiting against a tree outside a festival at which she was appearing. Best Friend, then, works as a reality check, a recentering, an apology and a confessional.
With images of both Bikini Kill and the Supremes littering her MySpace page, Nash’s new sound has been labeled grrrl group, a hybrid of ’60s bubblegum and Tobi Vail’s armpits (the feminist punk rocker wore Teen Spirit deodorant, which inspired her boyfriend, Kurt Cobain, to write a little ditty you might have heard).
The first taste of this new record, “I Just Love You More,” with its Sonic Youth guitars and screams, is a bit of a blood-red herring. The album, produced by Bernard Butler (Duffy), mostly shuffles along to handclaps and “Be My Baby” drums, as Nash’s chirpy voice flits along with lyrical bite. But all the upbeat retro-pop (“Kiss That Grrrl” and “Do-Wah-Doo” are adorable) likely will be overshadowed by the handful of experimental tracks. On “Mansion Song,” over a crackling opera recording, Nash snaps, “I can get fucked like the best of men.” A manic spoken-word rant (“Not being able to articulate what I want to say drives me crazy”) spills out over a string section in “Don’t You Want to Share the Guilt?” Some might label it embarrassing, but she’s baring herself and her diary scribblings. How terrible would it be if being real were career suicide?