When British singer-songwriter Kate Nash said that Girl Talk consists of her “blood, sweat, emotional puke and tears,” she wasn’t just being dramatic. Her third full-length is a messy chronicle of post-breakup grief that veers between relief (“Fri-end?”), soul-searching (“Conventional Girl”), wistfulness (“Are You There Sweetheart?”), sadness (“Lullaby For An Insomniac,” “O My God”) and anger (“All Talk”). Appropriately, Girl Talk‘s music is also all over the place; styles covered include wobbly, girl group-inspired indie-pop, brash punk, stormy post-punk, grimy new wave, sparkling Britpop and vulnerable acoustic pop.
But as always, Nash’s emotional tumult has a depth — and directness — that makes her music arresting. On Girl Talk, that’s largely due to lingering influence from her various bouts of women-first activism. (She was recently named Global Ambassador for the Because I am a Girl initiative, whose goal is to educate and empower girls residing in developing countries, and she was also outspoken about supporting Pussy Riot.) The brash “Rap For Rejection” calls out the presence of casual sexism and demands that people start speaking out against it. The thrashing neo-riot grrrl anthem “All Talk,” meanwhile, is a fiery personal declaration: “You got a problem with me cause I’m a girl?/ I’m a feminist/ And if that offends you/ Then fuck you.” Nash has always nailed the complex hell that’s dating and relationships, but Girl Talk is superb during these moments when the personal is political.