Folky Schizo Drops Truth, F-Bombs

Kate Nash

My Best Friend Is You

Fiction

While she never abandons her trademark folk-rock sensibilities from debut Made of Bricks, Kate Nash whips out a brand-new cache psychedelic embellishments for sophomore effort My Best Friend Is You — venturing onto refreshingly adult frontiers without compromising her melodic kiddie-pop core.

Nash’s Cockney accent is a daring shell for her trained octaves, alternating between sweet, sassy and snarling amid the most impressive range her side of the Atlantic. The further she strides from the safe, label-padded Bricks, the foxier the riotous modern-Motown sound.

Nash has mastered traditional 1960s pop with a punch and a wink: “Doo-Wah-Doo” overlays 12-bar Buddy Holly blues instrumentation with a verbal catfight, doing what the Beach Boys could never do by ending on the line, “She’s a bitch!”

But the album’s rarest gems are a handful of slithering, sub-punk numbers on which Nash transforms from podunk beauty queen to snarling, irreverent rock star in the big city. “Mansion Song” is the best of her party in the UK, driven by powerful jungle drums and a chorus of multi-octaved Nashes chanting “I am a misfit” over a stadium-worthy guitar line. This point of pride, of course, is only realized after one-and-a-half minutes of profane lambasting of “21st-century girls who can get fucked just as well as a man.” Then there’s the fact that — in a stroke of either genius or cheap identity crisis — that same riot-grrrl rant is underscored by a lo-fi, static-crackled solo from a seasoned opera singer.

Best Friend is sure to divide the crowd: More conventional (read: boring) tracks like “Paris” and “Early Christmas Present” will please older fans, but it’ll take a much more open mind to appreciate the outlandish scrapbook of honks and genres she takes up as a side hobby. It’s quite a cliff-jump from Bricks’ clean folk-rock to the heroin grind of “I Just Love You More” — on which Nash emits a series of Banshee screams that would put Yoko Ono to shame in an ear-piercing contest.

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