Kate Nash has been the British bird most noticeably missing from the music world since her sophomore album, My Best Friend is You (which I expressed some harsh opinions about, but still maintain when comparing to Made of Bricks) was released in April of 2010. Her recently released EP, Death Proof, is a five-song sampler of what we can expect to hear on her upcoming third album, Girl Talk. The first single, "Death Proof," inspired by none other than the much underrated 2007 Quentin Tarantino movie, is the first indication that Nash has not lost her penchant for championing the underdog.
Naturally, in paying homage to Lord Tarantino, "Death Proof" is tinged with a 60s, grindhouse sound similar to the aural stylings of "Kiss That Grrrl." In the accompanying video, Nash mirrors the aesthetic of Stuntman Mike as she drives to the Circus of Wonders to take her place among her fellow freaks. Throw in a questionable operation and a drum major’s outfit and that about sums up the rest of the plotline. The message of the song itself explores the notion that “You can spend your whole life getting down on one thing/You can waste all your time on one idea,” but what would be the point? Life doesn’t offer the luxury of fixation without losing valuable time. The motif of “Death Proof” is yet another example of Nash’s frequent explorations of obsession (e.g. “Foundations” and “Later On”).
The next track on Death Proof, “Fri-End?” is a more pop-punkcentric tune with equally superficial lyrics to match as she wails, “You don’t treat me like a friend/I never noticed what you said/You said some real mean things to me and I couldn’t be myself.” Even so, “Fri-End?” is perhaps the catchiest song on the EP, and addresses some of the more hard-hitting issues of friendship (for instance, “The way you dressed was more important to you than it was to be my friend”).
The following song, “I Want a Boyfriend,” continues the mod quality of Death Proof and expresses every girl’s secret desire to have a boyfriend with a car—or a girlfriend with an apartment. Starting out with light-hearted vocals, Nash expresses, “I want a boyfriend who drives a car/I want a boyfriend with a car/Someone to ride me really far/I want a girlfriend with a place/Somewhere to rest my pretty face.” With a vocal style throughout the song that makes it seem as though Nash may crack at any moment, she finally does as she chants, “And now I’m feelin’ it/And now I’m feelin’ it/And now I’m feelin’ it,” ultimately screaming the lines with the rage of mid-90s Alanis Morissette.
Nash’s love affair with the 60s endures with her cover of The Kinks “All Day and All of the Night.” Her respect for the integrity of Ray Davies’ tale of yearning and desire is evident in that she did not change the pronoun in the sentence, “Girl, I want to be with you all of the time,” whereas most other artists would feel inclined to tailor the song make it “gender appropriate.” The final song, “May Queen,” is a slow, simple soliloquy that echoes the tone and acapella-like nature of “I Hate Seagulls.” Lazily assuring “I’m no May queen, I’m no day queen,” Nash’s deliberately shaky voice is complemented by the homemade-sounding keyboard music. And, after all, what’s a true EP without a certain bootleg feel to it?