– by Hannah Nissen
Newcastle (and sometimes Californian) based songwriter Beth Jeans Houghton AKA Du Blonde released her latest album Welcome Back To Milk back in May. Backed by the likes of Bad Seed – Jim Sclavunos, the newly born Du Blonde is anything but flaxen in attitude. The Title track ‘Mind Is On My Mind’ hosts vocals from Future Island’s Samuel T. Herring, and boasts a killer Middle Eastern flare, melding a harsh succession of acts, rather than repeating hooks and refrains.
Houghton rose up from the ashes as Du after her debut Yours Truly Cellophane Nose back in 2012. While the album was rich in tender balladry, the all out pop-aggression that breaks down your door and steals your in Welcome Back To Milk warrants the murder and re-birth of Beth Jeans Houghton as a hot phoenix with a new band, a new name, and a completely new sound. Although at times this album’s sound outweighs the sheer force that you can receive from a skinny white girl, and soaks Du’s voice in what comes across as pink lemonade against a wave of grit, I admire the way her voice has evidently evolved and in most tracks her distinguished simplicity alone renders her more authentic then some of the tip-toed tracks in Yours Truly Cellophane Nose. Opting for vicious riffs, Du has broken out of the charming confines built up by her other 2 albums and stripped the stereotypical sweetness seen in her earlier stuff by owning, moaning and toning a genre that allows variety rather then the light, summer-festival-in-a-polka-dot-dress vibe leaking out of Cellophane Nose.
I have seen a lot of backlash against Du’s newfound freedom, stating the overt sexualisation comes across as pop sex-trade cynicism at its finest. However, as Du so eloquently put it, with the help of the ever-outrageous GG Allin:
“Have you seen the video on YouTube where GG Allin comes on stage naked wearing a dog collar and shits on the floor? I was saying to my mum, that’s not what I want to do, but I want to have the confidence – and also the option, as a woman – to act that way. If I want to pee on the stage, I want to be able to do that. Guys can act that way.. girls can’t, because they’ve got to be ‘ladies’… I want to totally be in people’s faces.”
While I believe the reincarnation we see before us is a step in the honest direction for Du, I believe this alien murkin-wearing punk is more of an angst entity rather than a transformed definition of Houghton. Houghton reportedly had a rough few months following her bands debut release which saw stress end up in swelling of the joints in the jaw, and after attempting another album “trying to be clever” she became her own manager and took control of her music. This album is a testament to that. Welcome Back To Milk is an all encompassing explosion of variety and originality, that hasn’t been seen in the pop genre since Courtney Love, and although I doubt Houghton will be stabbing her hand while eating eggs, or starting a war with The Scorpions on stage anytime soon, for a pop blonde hottie with a banging bod, Du Blonde definitely has some fire within her.