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Kate Nash returns with the honest and personal 9 Sad Symphonies

"9 Sad Symphonies"

Release date: 21 June 2024
Kate Nash 9 Sad Symphonies cover
18 June 2024, 09:00 Written by Lana Williams

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with Kate Nash’s music but for the best reason possible.

I love listening to her debut record in October (which has always been a Hallowe’en album for me), dancing around to “Pumpkin Soup”, enthusiastically nodding along to the staccato notes of “Mouthwash” and joining Nash in feeling her feels for “Nicest Thing”. But what I hate, is that a stage and a microphone has the power to reel me in for a karaoke rendition of “Foundations”. Made Of Bricks found itself soundtracking, and being a staple of, my teenage years, and now, almost two decades later, 9 Sad Symphonies pedestals as Nash’s fifth studio album.

It’s hard not to notice the six-year gap between this and 2018’s predecessor Yesterday Was Forever, but that time was anything but in vain. In her recess from the music world, Nash took her hand at acting (Netflix’s GLOW), co-created a musical with “Hamilton”’s choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler (“Only Gold”), and found herself the star of an award-winning documentary (“Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl”). Doting on losing your spark but seeing hope on the horizon (“Millions of Heartbeats”), 9 Sad Symphonies explores finding beauty amongst “Misery” and mental health struggles surfacing through the pandemic (“Ray”).

Opening the record is “Millions of Heartbeats” – where Nash finds herself at her lowest point, unable to recover the person she once was. Dazzling with delicate piano and soothing vocalisations, we’re reminded that sometimes all it takes is a small spark to reignite what was lost, as the song bursts into an overt symphony just past the two-minute mark. This upbeat nature carries on through to pose a juxtaposition on “Misery”. Buoyancy reigns throughout as Nash tries to dash and dodge the title emotion (“Misery is out to get you and me”), whereas “Wasteman” wallows amongst staccato percussion and reflects on being hated by a loved one, and ultimately leads into the heartache of “Abandoned”.

Sixth track, “My Bile”, forgoes the dark side of the industry and social media, casting the platforms aside as she has nothing left to offer them. Offering up an insistent string arrangement and soaring backing vocals as “won’t you ever mind your business” is strongly declared, the structure and performance by Nash harks back to her earlier musical offerings, most notably the fast spoken-word of “Mariella” and upbeat instrumentation of “Pumpkin Soup”.

Talking on the Kubrick-inspired “Space Odyssey 2001”, Nash confesses; “It's the wrong film for a date, but I love the film. I like making jokes in songs. I like that there's this beautiful love song but it's also complaining about this critically acclaimed film being too long. I don't recommend it for a first date!”. Boasting overt baroque pop, the ballad is an ode to her now-partner, whose first date encounter is the subject of the track.

Album closer, “Vampyre” rounds Nash’s journey off with a deep soulful vocal performance as she reflects on emotional debt she owes herself. Ultimately needing her record to be “Cinematic and dreamy”, Nash utilises her boundless creativity to deliver layered soundscapes and intricate narratives in arguably, her most honest and personal project

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