Kate Nash - Made Of Bricks
Paul Cook 09/08/2007
Upon the surprise success of debut single 'Foundations' which shot to a respectable #2 spot in the charts, Kate Nash's debut album was brought forward to release months ahead of schedule. Unfortunately this rush to the shelves might have damaged what sounds close to the catchiest indie-pop soundtrack of this 'summer.'
Firstly, to discard of the comparisons with the quite chavtastic Lily Allen who, despite singing nothing but praise for what she calls “the next best thing”, is well and truly slipping away into Nash's shadow. And for good reason; Nash's tracks, although in much the same storytelling style, have a sincerity and frankness that feels neither phony nor exaggerated. Too many parallels can be drawn between the two and 'Made of Bricks' benefits hugely from a simplistic, wholesome approach to the instrumentals that allow for Nash's ultimately more tuned and pure voice to shine through.
Collectively the album is a 50/50 selection of feel good summer sing-a-longs and strange, acoustic numbers that are difficult to take to immediately. Opening with the electric, skatty 'Play' the album gets off to a shaky start as the pleasantries and melodies of 'Foundations' are, for a moment, blown away with the erratic, skittishness of the opening track. Thankfully the comfort and delicacy of 'Foundations' restores the balance. Nash's voice is what really drives the song. The chorus line is figurative and memorable making it a clear winner in the charts and standout tune of 2007.
'Dickhead' if not for shock factor alone is the only real disappointment. Omitting it from the record entirely might have been the best idea as it drags along at a sluggish pace, with repetitive and dull lyrics. Besides this the album stirs and surprises throughout. The wistful 'We Get On' is a straight forward piano pop song with an atmosphere of pantomime drama and love. 'Mariella' begins at a gentle, vocally-driven pace before gradually soaring into a delicate yet powerful and rhythmic track. A talent for song-writing is apparent but a tighter grasp on the temptation to fall back on the repetition of chorus lines is needed if the star is to shine as a great singer/song-writer.
Nash's abilities with the piano are an achievement in themselves creating a delicate ambience whilst the lyrics manage to wittily contrast this to tell a more frank yet poetic story. 'Pumpkin Soup' is an uplifting, jazzy addition to the album with another catchy chorus that works brilliantly with Nash's London accent. Cheery additions from the wood block and trumpets to the soundscape help to lift the song out of it's pop boundaries and this style is continued through 'til the final track. 'Skeleton Soup' is another jazzed up, piano-laden track with an upbeat, faster-paced drum beat and similarly jumpy piano. Fun and lively, this track like many others on the album are refreshing and just simply great to listen to, especially with summer finally on the horizon. 'Nicest Thing' brings the tone down a little and might have benefited from being placed at the start of the record. Emotional violins and ballad vocals from Nash show variation and further capabilities before 'Merry Happy/Little Red' ends the debut on an all time high. The playful, simple piano keys complement Nash's poetically modern lyrics, albeit slightly offbeat and random subject matter and make the best song on the album, on par with the fantastic 'Foundations.' A decent debut effort, one which tops Lily Allen's 'Alright Still' by a mile with more style, audacity and spark with a little less emphasis on the accent and more on the music.