A telling exploration of society’s treatment of women
Matty Pywell
11:51 22nd June 2020

More about:

Nadine Shah has affirmed herself as one of the UK’s best political songwriters. Her last album Holiday Destination released in 2017 captured a moment in time, documenting attitudes to immigration and refugees amongst the heightened tensions of Brexit and a Trump presidency. Her latest record Kitchen Sink takes a more domestic approach and in doing so explores femininity and everyday sexism.

There is a tendency in society to forget that women over 30 exist. All of a sudden there is an expectation that they should be married, have a kid or two and settle down for a life of glorious subservience to the man as the housewife of a nuclear family. This is bullshit. Shah explores these archaic social paradigms, “shave my legs, freeze my eggs, will you want me when I am old?” she sings on ‘Trad’, the accompanying brew of misty synth and Shah’s gospel-like vocals give off undertones of an unideal world.

‘Ladies For Babies (Goats For Love)’ is a subversion of the Ace of Base song ‘All That She Wants’, flipping the gender to make fun out of a man who expects his wife to only be useful as a baby carrier, whilst also being a tongue-in-cheek beastiality joke. From gaslighting to harassment, beauty standards and the pressure of marriage, Shah writes incisively about how sexist and demeaning tradition is still affecting women to this day.

A lot of gender expectations are put upon women who are in their 30s and over. This is explored on ‘Dillydally’, where a minimalistic yet insistent drum track mirrors the ticking of a clock. The clock ticking is an accurate metaphor for adulthood, where people are expected to settle down and become almost robotic. You see your friends get married, having children and it gives you FOMO, whereas in reality we should not need to feel pressure to an outdated tradition. ‘Dillydally’ urges us to not get caught in a vicious cycle of catching up.

The latter half of the album does deviate in its consistency. ‘Kite’ features really intimidating, almost monolithic hums that echo into the distance, yet it feels as though the song shrinks in its ambiance, unable to truly grasp you and therefore it's easy to find yourself zoning out. The same can be said for ‘Wasps Nest’ and the latter stages of title track, ‘Kitchen Sink’.

There can be no doubt as to the political prowess of Nadine Shah’s lyricism. She is one of the UK’s best political songwriters and always seems to produce poignant and affecting pieces of work. Kitchen Sink is a telling exploration of society’s treatment of women.

Kitchen Sink is released on 26 June 2020 via Infectious Music. 

More about: