If you were a fan of the beauty of Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose, the debut album of Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves Of Destiny; then your enjoyment of Welcome Back To Milk, the debut album of Du Blonde is far from assured. Whilst Houghton is Du Blonde and Du Blonde is Houghton, this rebranding and musical metamorphosis has altered Houghton into the brash, merkin-wearing cover star rather than the pleasant lady of yesteryear.
Where Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose touched on wonder with its refinement and intricacies, Welcome Back To Milk relies on harsh pop sensibilities to get its point across. With the lyrics tracing stories of broken affection, Houghton appears to bare all with a cynical grin.
The record’s attitude is perfectly summarised in the track ‘Young Entertainment’ which starts as a mystic number, before morphing into an explicitly infectious anthem. Whilst your heart urges you to sing along, your brain incessantly reminds you that bellowing “What is it like, what is it like / To fuck your mistress with her hands tied?” in public falls somewhat short of the “OK” line. Better settle for some low key dance moves instead then.
Retracing back to the album’s start, ‘Black Flag’ does well to set the tone with its heavy-handed composition and use of drums and bass. Second track ‘Chips To Go’ picks the pace up, as it gallops along with Houghton demonstrating her vocal abilities through gentle flourishes and impassioned shouts throughout this energetic track. Whilst ‘Raw Honey’ and ‘After The Show’ are somewhat brooding, ‘If You’re Legal’ is a slice of sheer joy as its whirlwind pace gets your pulse racing, and the infectious yet risqué lyrics make another appearance in the form of:
“Knees up, knees up Mother Brown / If you’re legal my boy is going down / Feel the breeze up between your thighs / Keep it regal my boy will get you high”
Coupled with instrumental energy, specifically the wondrous brass, and a bizarrely phased out outro comprising of what seems like school choir singing, ‘If You’re Legal’ is just great. As if to deliberately to toy with your emotions, the following track is an endearing yet soaring ballad in the form of ‘Hunter’. With guitar strums that cut through your soul as Houghton’s voice reverts from spiteful to spiritual, this is a track that could inspire a guilt-free, tear-filled and subsequently deafening sing-along.
After offending some other innocent inhabitants of suburbia on our meandering and uncertain journey to the album’s conclusion we arrive at the retrospective ‘Isn’t It Wild’. Welcome Back To Milk’s closing track provides respite and time for reflection as negative feelings are left at the door, as this piano-led charmer brings proceedings to an emotive close.
Whether Beth Jeans Houghton was either brutally murdered by Du Blonde or merely imprisoned in the cellar until further notice is uncertain, but Welcome Back To Milk is an album which applies the perfection of Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose in a different key. At the very least confirming Houghton’s ingenuity as an artist, this aggressively infectious record is doused in an emotional discontent which merely adds to the wonderfully subtle complexity which makes it fantastic.
Welcome Back To Milk is available from Amazon and iTunes.