Beth Jeans Houghton is back – well, not quite. Next Monday (May 18th), the singer/songwriter releases her new record, Welcome Back To Milk, though it’s a world away from her last offering, 2012 debut Yours Truly Cellophane. Though there’ll still be elements to intrigue the old fans, for the most part Beth is a very changed musician, assuming the moniker of Du Blonde and starting from scratch.
So, is it a sophomore record, or a debut? In many ways it could be considered both. After an epiphany in the final room of the “David Bowie Is…” experience two years ago, Beth decided to go back to her roots, focus on what got her into music, and after realising she wasn’t creating what she really wanted to, tear it all up and begin again. With the new found energy to keep moving and changing, Du Blonde was born.
There’s feelings of a debut record in technicalities as well as motivation, from the temperamental and ever changing style to the originality that floods the record; changing at every turn makes it a constant breath of fresh air. Beth’s set herself a mission statement that comes across in the confidence every track drips with;
What am I pissed off with? In no particular order: the free wheeling judgment of faceless accuses online, every man and his dog giving me advice on how to live my life, what to wear, what not to say, how to write songs. Being asked if I’m on my period in business meetings. Being told to ‘just deal with’ misogyny. It’s clear that the message for young girls, in music, business and relationships is still ‘shut up, do what you’re told and be thankful’.
Though Beth has vowed to longer hide behind her guitar, it’s that which leads opening track and first single off the album, Black Flag. A world away with her current single, Hunter, there’s an understated power-ballad vibe about the thick, bassy sound that contrasts the harmonising back vocals; slow, deliberate and epic, it’s a highlight of the record.
Captivating Raw Honey lets Beth show off her lyrical talent in husky tones, accompanied by a guitar solo that sounds rather classic-rock-esque-through-a-buffer. Calm but agitated Young Entertainment and fuzzy, nonchalant Mr Hyde show off her brutal side, sticking out against piano driven sentimental number, Four In The Morning.
The jumpy percussion of If You’re Legal punchy through the heavy chords that often inflate the record, and electrified penultimate Mind Is On My Mind (featuring Future Islands frontman Samuel T Herring) adds its own sprig of originality with striking high vocals and spiralling instrumental, whilst the two vocals styles compliment each other sublimely.
With a wartime feel via the gramophone vocal effect, closing Isn’t It Wild is another stand out, with lyrics that once dwelled upon, resonate on a deep yet accessible level; “Isn’t it wild / In the time that it takes / To learn a lesson / We dwell upon making mistakes?” being a shining example.
Welcome Back To Milk is a record to really sink your teeth into, jumping all over the place but never too far from a trusty, grungey guitar riff. Beth’s feisty and headon attitude is set to win hearts on her own ground, in an album that boasts the best features of a debut and sophomore release.
You can stream Black Flag below.
Du Blonde set out on tour this summer -full dates below.
3 – BRIGHTON GREEN DOOR STORE
4 – LONDON 100 CLUB
5 – LEEDS BRUDENELL SOCIAL CLUB
6 – BRISTOL LOUISIANA
7 – NOTTINGHAM THE BODEGA
9 – MANCHESTER DEAF INSTITUTE
10 – GLASGOW BROADCAST
11 – NEWCASTLE THE CLUNY
24 – THIRSK, DEER SHED FESTIVAL