Wednesday, February 21, 2007

How do you solve a problem like ... Caroline's A Victim?

This clearly has nothing to do with the Andrew Lloyd Webber production of "The Sound Of Music", but it does concern the sound of music. The "problem", in so far as there is perceived to be one, concerns this single that is one side of a double 'A-side' on 7".
If you want the 7" you are going to have to search for a copy but you can also download it here.

A certain amount of effort has gone in to posts claiming that she is "this year's Lily Allen", and indeed she herself has given Kate Nash her full backing, but listen to Caroline's A Victim and you will likely be left wondering why this particular song has any relevance to anything on Alright, Still. You are forgiven that because the answer is that it doesn't!

This is exactly why this single is a double A-side and Birds will seem more accessible to those expecting a modern urban narrative largely backed by semi-acoustic sounds (which she mostly plays herself).
The choice of Caroline's A Victim as the lead single has been questioned by many a reviewer already. I like it and think that it may be a statement of intent given that this is her first commercial recording (it is released on independent label MoshiMoshi [MOMO4]), and it is also a very interesting development. The track itself consists almost entirely of thundering bass and heavy drum parts, plus of course the vocals, and beyond the obvious is heavily influenced by ska, post-punk and a great deal more besides. It is also very curiously addictive and the versatility that it demonstrates is alarming in the context of a 7" single, but the ambition to take such a strange course is actually quite explicable, and maybe even logical. The major labels are circling, but she is holding out and she recently said:

"I'm really stubborn... if I want to write an eight minute song then I'm gonna do it.
I want my album to be eclectic."
(The Fly - February 2007)

In some ways this reminds me of the devil-may-care attitude to music genres that (2007 Brit Award Winner for Best Foreign Female) Nelly Furtado has deployed across her three albums to date. Don't worry if it's folk, funk or whatever else; if it works use it and if it doesn't then consider adapting it so that it does - just as she did quite spectacularly for the 2006 single Maneater, which sampled the Hall and Oates 1982 disco "classic" of the same name taken from the album H2O.
It was a huge hit - including four weeks as UK #1- but it could hardly have been predicted given the content of her second album Folklore, released in late 2003, which somehow managed to split opinions all ways: some people thought it was too folky and not enough pop, while others argued that it was not folky enough to be credible - but even so it has now sold to the tune of 2½ million copies, and counting, worldwide.

The problem is that to do this successfully requires a wide spectrum of musical influences but, based only on these two tracks, it would be unwise to rule Kate Nash out of any equation. Apparently still unsigned, she is currently recording her d├ębut album and it could just be very interesting indeed - with or without that eight minute song.

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