Du Blonde is not a persona or a character, it’s Beth Jeans Houghton ripping it up and starting again. Welcome Back To Milk is the Newcastle-born and sometimes Californian based singer’s second album, but her debut as Du Blonde, and it’s a complete reinvention: new name, new sound, new band, new attitude – and attitude is the key word.
It started at the V&A. Two years ago, in the cavernous final room of the ‘David Bowie Is…’ exhibition, Beth had an epiphany. “When I was a kid, my idea of being a musician came from all these big characters – Bowie, Bolan, Beefheart” she says. “I had this moment in front of all these chapters of his life: this is what I want to do and I haven’t done it for all of these years. All this stuff that was really important to me in the beginning, all of the creativity, emotional expulsion, I’d just lost all of that. It was such a sad moment, but also good – because you can’t change it unless you realise.”
It was time for a revolution and to get back to what she’d always promised herself: to keep moving, keep changing, keep pushing art and sound and never be pinned down. Beth Jeans Houghton was dead, and Du Blonde was born.
Where 2012’s debut Yours Truly Cellophane Nose threw everything at a song, Welcome Back To Milk strips everything back and is one massive release of pent up aggression, captured perfectly by producer and Bad Seed Jim Sclavunos. Heavy riffs, loud drums and vocal snarls contrast beautifully with poignant balladry and tenderness that fans of Houghton’s previous work will recognise. Future Islands frontman Samuel T Herring also provides guest vocals on Mind Is On My Mind.
“What am I pissed off about? In no particular order: the free wheeling judgement of faceless accusers 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’.”