It’s been a good while since Beth Jeans Houghton has produced any music and when you hear her latest release, under her new guise of Du Blonde, you will understand that this is because she has spent some time transforming (via a caving in of the mind and the shedding of her band The Hooves of Destiny) into a quite different creature.
Her previous incarnation didn’t seem ready, her wings were still wet and there was a rambling uncertainty about it all. As Du Blonde she drips in confidence and dark, raunchy strut that, when coupled with the kind of ripped-stitches-open-wound-honesty that is rife on this album, is pretty irresistible. Vocally it is deep and rich, razor wire in honey – lines such as “Jekyll’s in the kitchen suckin’ off Hyde” and “What is it like to fuck your mistress with her hands tied” arrive shrouded in the voice of Jessica Rabbit.
Initial impressions are that what you have here is a formerly psychedelic girl attempting to come back as a studded, leather jacket clad woman; angry at and rebelling against herself. ‘Black Flag’ is a bassline-pounder of raw, punky heritage and the follow up track, ‘Chips to Go’, is a nod to the tail end of that genre with a ska riff vein running right the way through it. After that the aggression and flaunt stops for a while (though it is quick to return), giving way to an over-flowing vat of thick and delicious tales of tragic love, dark sexual shenanigans and unflinching revelations of personal weakness and hurt. Heavy subject matter that might seem like it wouldn’t be much fun but it’s quite the opposite. I couldn’t take my ears off it.
There is shouting and swagger, confession and regret, chunky riffs and subtle melodies, swearing and articulation; all of this gives it a nice range of personalities and keeps you interested all the way through. At times it could be the soundtrack to a pulp fiction or film noir movie whilst at others it would be perfectly capable of holding its own in a basement rock club. There is a gritty vibrancy to every aspect.
I’ve listened to this album a lot now and still I keep going back for a sneaky hit, over and over again. Just as Nico Vega can refresh your musical palette with high energy, genuine raw power and attitude, so too can Du Blonde. This album is the sort of shot in the arm that can liven up any lethargic trawl through your iPod with its cocktail of lipstick, bruises and cigarette smoke but unfortunately I doubt we’ll see it attacking the charts anytime soon. This is a shame, because it really deserve more.