Kate Nash Made of Bricks

While everyone is branding this 20-year-old web-grown Londoner "the next Lily Allen” — a tag that isn’t unjust, mind you — I’m too busy wondering what happened to the girl who released the art damaged single "Caroline’s A Victim” through hot indie label Moshi Moshi at the beginning of the year? Made of Bricks is a perfectly timed release that rolls in right when Allen’s Alright, Still is slipping into irrelevance. Perky, punk-y and full of poise, Kate Nash comes up just short on her debut mainly because the bulk of it feels too rushed and a little safe. (Yes, even the potty-mouthed "Dickhead” and "Shit Song” feel handpicked by a suit with a grin.) But let’s not sell her short, because the girl’s got plenty of talent, it’s just being used without the right tactic. As she’s proven, Nash has the chops and likeability to please both the mainstream and indie crowds (like Allen) but Made of Bricks fails to carry that balance; essentially it’s a polished piece of pop with only a handful of charms. Hit single "Foundations” is one of the year’s best tracks, with a shuffling pseudo-rap verse and a divinely unforgettable chorus confronting her mixed emotions. And "Birds” is her token ballad, and another corker, showcasing her ability to pen something heartfelt and expressive. But considering Paul Epworth, the man behind the debut LPs by Bloc Party, the Futureheads and Maximo Park, is behind the boards, it’s hard not to feel blasé about the results. There’s much more to Nash than she lets on, and the album feels glossed over with hasty decisions that needed more time to settle and blossom. Let’s hope this isn’t all she has in the tank because her potential is evident. (Polydor)