Kate Nash Made of Bricks Geffen

Here we have Lily Allen 2.0: a young, pretty, uncouth Briton riding MySpace success (thanks in part to "top friend" placement on Allen's own page) to blog hype and, finally, the time-honored publicity blitz. Allow me to pile on.

Kate Nash's music could certainly catch on like Allen's, what with its plain-spoken lyrics and genre-jumping, Starbucks-ready songcraft. Despite a grab-bag approach that yields sassy, horn-punctuated pop tracks ("Pumpkin Soup") and soulful acoustic numbers ("Nicest Thing"), her stock in trade is a brand of piano pop that lands her squarely in Vanessa Carlton territory.

Kate Nash Made of Bricks Geffen

Here we have Lily Allen 2.0: a young, pretty, uncouth Briton riding MySpace success (thanks in part to "top friend" placement on Allen's own page) to blog hype and, finally, the time-honored publicity blitz. Allow me to pile on.

Kate Nash's music could certainly catch on like Allen's, what with its plain-spoken lyrics and genre-jumping, Starbucks-ready songcraft. Despite a grab-bag approach that yields sassy, horn-punctuated pop tracks ("Pumpkin Soup") and soulful acoustic numbers ("Nicest Thing"), her stock in trade is a brand of piano pop that lands her squarely in Vanessa Carlton territory.

All these sides congeal on lead single "Foundations," Nash's most well-rounded calling card. In an unmasked cockney accent, she alternates between emotional confessions ("I know that I should let go, but I can't") and foul-mouthed sass ("Then you'll call me a bitch/ And everyone we're with will be embarrassed/ And I won't give a s---") while her trademark piano, an electronic beat and shimmering synths propel the song to sure-hit status. None of her other songs are quite so good, but there's plenty more hit-making potential here between "Mouthwash," "Merry Happy" and "Pumpkin Soup."

Whether or not she was aided by pro songwriters, Nash's musicianship is impressive for a 20-year-old. She has a knack for melodies, and although she'll occasionally launch into Bjork-fed vocal runs, she seems to have cultivated a voice of her own. Her main problem—or her selling point, depending on where you stand—is the words that come out when she uses that voice.

Her lyrics reflect none of the maturity of her music; they sound, fittingly enough, like rambling poetry from a 20-year-old's MySpace blog. Consider Nash's wisdom on conflict: "Why you being a dickhead for?" On birds: "When you look at them, and you see that they're beautiful/ That's how I feel about you." On flirting: "Tell me that you didn't try to check out my bum." On the little things that make young love so glorious: "Dancing at discos/ Eating cheese on toast."

Some will be drawn to such direct proclamations, and they certainly add character to the songwriting. It's a catch-22: Without the juvenile spunk, the songs would revert to passable but unmemorable status; as they stand, they can be maddeningly goofy. I tend to think the silly lyrics are a negative, but if I give Kanye's clunkers the benefit of the doubt, I have to extend the same courtesy to this charming lass.

Grade: B Download: "Foundations"

Magnetic Fields Distortion Nonesuch

Let's get this out on the table: I'm no Magnetic Fields expert. A friend sat me down in his dorm room freshman year and forced me to listen to all 69 Love Songs in a row, and after such a grueling trek I've never been compelled to return to that sprawling collection. I'm a big fan of 2004's fanatic-disappointing i, but I've never given much time to the band's extensive early works, nor have I dabbled in Stephen Merritt's many side projects.

I'm also not an ardent Jesus and Mary Chain backer, so presumably I would have little interest in this record, which more or less marries the two bands, running Merritt's dapper pop through a retro filter, adding extra lead vocalists to sometimes cede the spotlight from Merritt's rich baritone and draping it all in nasty layers of noise. But Distortion is a gradual charmer that I've warmed to quite a bit over the course of five or six listens. Like i, it gets a little dreary in the second half yet is bolstered sufficiently by its highlights. As 69 Love Songs fans should know: You gotta skip around, you gotta skip around.

As with most albums covered in noise, reverb and static, the tunes underneath take a few spins to reveal themselves. Soon enough, "California," a mid-tempo head-bobber reminiscent of the Shins' "Phantom Limb," and two-chord wonder "Please Stop Dancing" and the lurching, majestic "Old Fools" work their way inexorably into your brain. And while this probably isn't the Magnetic Fields' best album, it also isn't three discs long, so I'm inclined to cut it a break.

Grade: B Download: "Old Fools"