I was in the UK back in July visiting family. One of the new releases that week was Made of Bricks by Kate Nash, which caught my eye because (a) it was at number one in the charts and had that cool jewel case becoming more common in europe, (b) I had just seen a brief mention in Q Magazine and apparently she had recently been successful in the singles chart with "Foundations" and (c) she was likeable in that down-to-earth, girl of the street way that an expat Brit like me might enjoy when stateside and in need of some cockney-speak. I resisted temptation (I'm very wary of buying an album without hearing anything on it) but eventually bought it on eBay after just a couple of listens.
I'm going to make a conscious effort not to mention another singer's name that always seems to be mentioned in the same breath. Like other reviews I have read, I an going to say that there is some filler material, partly explained by the label (Fiction) rushing out the album five weeks early because of the single's success. The street-smarts is no mere gimmick, as it's pretty obvious that most of these songs have their roots in a very straightforward piano and or guitar setting, and if anything the challenge has been to avoid drowning out the obvious singer-songwriter talent with an unnecessary plethora of studio tricks and modern production effects. For the most part, the songs shine through. The single is probably the best place to start, with honest lines like "I hope I'm not stuck with this one" and "why don't you have another beer, then?" bringing a conversational quality to the track. "Birds" is a great romantic story song with some moments of word-play genius and other tracks like "Mouthwash" and "Skeleton Song" canter along in an entertaining manner. There's some profanity, but it never seems forced or superfluous.
No word yet on a US release but given the strong showing of British artists over the pond in recent times, there's no reason why it won't be a chart smash all over again. Overall, a great debut from a charming young talent.
You can listen to Kate's track by track commentary here
Here's some videos:
Birds (live acoustic session)
Interview for the Album Chart Show