Welcome Back To Milk

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The gist The Hooves of Destiny make way for something bigger and better The music Amazingly its been 3 years since Beth Jeans Houghton and the Hooves of Destiny released Yours Truly Cellophane Nose. In a way that album was a perfect snapshot of Houghton in 2012, and a whole world away from the musician that emerged from Newcastle's thriving live scene in the mid 00's. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's no real surprise that the artist, now known as Du Blonde, has chosen to re-invent herself once again with the release of Welcome Back To Milk. Not that she necessarily sees it as a re-invention, more of return to focus after getting "sidetracked" (as told to Loud & Quiet in this excellent interview). What can be said for sure though is that Du Blonde now wears her heart firmly on her sleeve, cutting to the chase with an album that's as unsubtle as it is eclectic. At times the songs sound like pomp-rock mega hits from the 1970s (think Bat Out Of Hell which sounds like a weird scenario but Houghton somehow makes it pay), at other times there's classic 60s girl-group balladry on show, all complemented by tonnes of shouty sweary bits and some inspired guests vocalists and contributors (including Samuel T Herring from Future Islands with a scene stealing performance on "Mind Is On My Mind" and even a recording of Houghton's own grandparents on "Isn't It Wild"). The common ground though, which is shared by all the songs on this LP, is that each and every one of these tracks is so huge. Whether you're talking about the thundering bass and drums or the ridiculously catchy hooks or the random surprises like the uplifting brass on "If You're Legal". Welcome Back To Milk closes the book on Beth Jeans Houghton and introduces Du Blonde in spectacular, uncompromising fashion. Listen to "Hunter - some gospel backing seems to inspire Houghton into new levels of vocal dexterity. Powerful but not showy, there's never any danger of X-Factor warbling, just a strong understated maturity to the singing "After The Show" - probably the newest contender for song of the year. A soul ballad straight from the heart, it shows a song-writing depth which Beth Jeans Houghton always threatened but never quite pulled off. Her masterpiece.