With the first track ‘Life In Pink’ Kate Nash sounds like she’s written the theme tune to a New Girl type TV show. Every second is accounted for and you can almost see the quirky protagonist leading the camera through her messy apartment as she sings the hook, “I keep heart-shaped glasses close to me for when it rains.”
The Riot Grrrl influence of her last, underappreciated album Girl Talk can be seen in tracks like ‘California Poppies’ “Twisted Up” and “Hate You”, as well as the spoken-word style of ‘Musical Theatre’. The album feels like a scrapbook of ideas, with the mishmash of styles most evident in ‘California Poppies’ where Nash switches between her typical chatty pop, into a screaming, distorted chorus, and a surprisingly delicate fading outro. It’s not unpleasant, but it is… specific. It doesn’t work if you’re too angry, or too resigned, or too upbeat. Instead, you feel as if you’re observing Nash, there’s never quite a way ‘in’ after ‘Life In Pink’.
Not that it isn’t endearing. Listening to Yesterday Was Forever feels like having a bottle of wine with your bestie as she complains about the arsehole she’s dating. The longer she talks the more you’re like, “Dump their ass!!” In ‘Hate You’ Nash sings, “It’s 3 A.M., you never showed up / You say “come over, just take the bus” / That’s why I’m telling you / (I really fucking hate you).” Girl, you went over on the bus in the middle of the night and they didn’t even meet up with you? Dump their ass!
‘Takeaway’ uses Nash’s classic casual observational style, but falls down in comparison to the very similar ‘Chinese’ by Lily Allen. In Allen’s song the Chinese takeaway is bought because the partner recognises that Allen’s protagonist is tired – it’s a treat and a sign of affection – but for Nash the Chinese takeaway is a last-ditch attempt to make someone stay. A Chinese takeaway needs to be a compliment to a relationship, not the foundation.
Talking of ‘Foundations’, Nash’s smash hit casts a long shadow. And whereas the relationship detailed then felt fairly evenly matched, looking back at the track from her debut album Made Of Bricks there’s the tell-tale signs of someone who can’t quite let go. If you can’t remember the plot; her boyfriend calls her a “bitch”, gets aggressive with her, and throws up on her trainers. But she’s singing about how, while she knows she should really break up with him, she just can’t quite do it.
And yet, you can’t fault her for that. In ‘Twisted Up’, one of the best songs on Yesterday Was Forver after ‘Life In Pink’, Nash remembers how it felt to be with her ex. She sings, “I don’t wanna read an email, read an email from a ghost, yeah / I wanna be touched by, I wanna be touched by you the most cheeks / I feel it in your hands, I feel it in your toes and mouth, eyes / Thank god I’m alive right now.” It’s almost as if the memory of her desire is enough to keep her going. And this definitely feels like an album from someone who’s almost lost hope and is carrying on because she has to. It’s fitting that the album ends with ‘To the Music I Belong’, because Yesterday Was Forever feels like someone working through some stuff – an album made because the musician couldn’t process how they were feeling in any other way. And that’s a good thing.
And like when we finally send our bestie out the door, my main thought when the album finishes is; “I hope she gets home okay”, because those quirky girls in heart shaped glasses can end up looking tragic in hindsight.
By Ana Hine