CD: Kate Nash - Yesterday Was Forever The cockney songbird continues her adventures in American indi
Kate Nash is no quitter. For years her heavy London accent and kitchen-sink lyrics made her an easy target for mockery. Nash always brushed it off. Even, last year, when her record label dropped her, she refused to take things lying down. So she turned to the internet and Kickstarter. The result is Yesterday Was Forever. Some are saying it's her most sophisticated record yet.
Maybe it is, maybe it's not. What is for certain is that, since her massive hit "Foundations" (2007), the sing-song voice has progressed beyond recognition. Much of the album feels more Katy Perry than Kate Nash. There's also US indie, pop-punk and even a dollop of Joanna Newsom. Nash, it seems, has taken everything she has and thrown it at the LP.
A lot of it sticks. Nash has a great ear for a catchy melody and hooks abound. The feisty and breezy "Life in Pink" could have been by P!nk. At the other end of the scale, the dreamy, "My Little Alien" is psychedelic and quirky. Not all the songs feel quite so successful. On "Californian Poppies" Nash's voice turns from sweet melody to a raucous squawk. That harsh style worked on Girl Talk (2013) – Nash's riot grrl LP – but here it feels schizophrenic.
If the music's a mixed bag, Nash's words paint a consistantly vivid picture. The singer's use of everyday speech is deceptively skilful. When she declares, "I want a take away with you/ I don't care if it's Chinese food/ We'll get a side of Pepsi too", it's wonderfully relatable. It's not all bathos either. On "Musical Theatre" she takes us on a disturbing trip inside a mental health episode: "I bite my lip so hard, I bite the skin off completely/ I feel the blood about to drip... it tastes like metal".
But here's the thing. The words, and their delivery, always feel, in some way, personal. The alt-American musical style, on the other hand, feels like it was written for someone else. That creates dissonance. The singer's experiences acting in the US TV show GLOW have clearly given her a real love of US indie-gal music. She writes it pretty well. But the jury's out on whether she's always the best person to perform it.