Beth Jeans Houghton, as an artist, is no more – welcome in her stead Du Blonde, the name by which the idiosyncratic Tynesider shall henceforth be known. Listening to ‘Welcome Back To Milk’ you can fully understand why Houghton felt a new identity was needed for this record – this is a musical reinvention that is altogether heavier, more band-centric, more diverse and more inventive than her former incarnation of skewed, magical pop, which quickly irritated. She wants this album to be seen as a debut, and it certainly feels like that.

Opener ‘Black Flag’ is grinding and bass-heavy, while ‘Chips To Go’ has a vaguely eastern feel. Future Islands’ Samuel Herring appears to superb and theatrical effect on the bombastic, driven ‘Mind Is On My Mind’, while the album takes interesting turns on the showy waltz ‘After The Show’ and ‘Hunter’, which is the kind of power ballad you can imagine on the soundtrack of a US teen drama. Houghton wanted a new musical identity and in Du Blonde she’s swapped alt-pop whimsy for Karen O-ish gnarl.


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