The British Invasion: Millennium Edition continues with the arrival of Kate Nash’s debut album “Made of Bricks,” which hit shelves in January.
Nash, 20, is the latest in the assembly line of female singer-songwriters to hail from the U.K. Her style is more Lily Allen than Amy Winehouse, but unlike that pair, Nash’s personal life hasn’t yet overshadowed her musical accomplishments. Anglophiles will appreciate the uniquely British euphemisms scattered throughout “Made of Bricks” (“I’d rather be with your friends, mate / ‘Cause they are much fitter”) as well as Nash’s over exaggerated drop the R’s accent (“fitt-ah”), a trait which has been criticized by some of her compatriots as a bit overdone.
Nash, so the story goes, composed and made early recordings of many of the songs that would become “Made of Bricks” while nursing a broken foot after she fell down a flight of stairs. Using a guitar that her parents gave her as a consolation gift, Nash posted early demos of the tracks to her MySpace page, where she built a growing fanbase and attracted the attention of industry reps.
Throughout “Made of Bricks,” Nash contemplates the ups and downs of schoolgirl crushes and young love. She dismisses some lads with a sassy vigor reminiscent of Allen’s (see: “Dickhead”) and pines after others (“Pumpkin Soup”). While musically, the album is more complex and innovative than Allen’s “Alright, Still,” it sometimes falls short lyrically. The tracks too often consist of phrases that seem to have been hastily thrown together simply because they rhyme (i.e. “I use mouthwash / Sometimes I floss”).
Sometimes the technique work well, as in the repetitive “Shit Song” (“Darlin’ don’t give me shit / ‘Cause I know that you’re full of it”). But other times it’s unfortunate. The melodies are catchy enough to sing along to, but it would be better if the words being belted out weren’t so trite. Some of the strongest songs emerge when Nash sheds her harsh exterior and adopts a more wistful tone, as on the achingly vulnerable “Nicest Thing.”
At a recent performance in New York, Nash seemed a bit awe-struck playing in front of a sell-out crowd just 24 hours after “Made of Bricks” was released in the U.S. What she lacked in stage presence she made up for with furious fingerwork along her piano on crowd pleasers like “Mariella” and first single “Foundations.”
Nash’s promising musical prowess makes it easy for listeners to overlook the teenage angst/dear-diary sentiments on “Made of Bricks.” This commendable debut from a rising young talent will leave listeners intrigued to discover what Nash is really made of.