Remember a year or two ago when it looked like pint-sized, foul-mouthed British ladies were going to take over? First came Lily Allen, then Kate Nash, and, confession time here, I love both of them more than any straight, semi-adult male should. There's just something so catty and entertaining about their music; see, these girls write songs about boys, though they obviously know that writing songs about boys is dumb (and that the boys they are writing songs about are dumb, natch), so the only way to remove themselves from the pitfalls of being a girl who writes songs about dumb boys is a wink, a nudge, self-awareness, and some witty jokes. It sounds simple, but the bratty sophistication they are able to do it with is unparalleled.
Any new artist that gets the Lily Allen/Kate Nash comparison is going to get my attention, which is where my somewhat obsession with Laura Marling comes in. She hit during this wave, yet never really managed to make any splash outside of her British home, despite the fact that the above song, "New Romantic," is utterly brilliant. She plays with subdued composure, writes lyrics that no seventeen year old should be able to write, and sings in a frail voice that is altogether commanding and heartbreaking. The song is self-deprecating, fragile, angry, sad, and all those teenage emotions that we're supposed to be above now, but somehow she manages to make them decidedly not embarrassing and un-twee.
I've never really had a reason to share my love for Laura Marling, but just a few days ago she was announced as being on the shortlist for the 2008 Mercury Prize for her album, Alas, I Cannot Swim. She doesn't have a chance in hell, going up against the likes of Radiohead, Burial, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, and The Last Shadow Puppets, but it's nice to finally see her get some recognition, and it's especially nice to finally get a chance to nerd out over "New Romantic."