Du Blonde’s latest album, “Lung Bread for Daddy” has been getting rave reviews for good reason. Each of the short, direct, and powerfully mournful tracks vied for my favourite song on the album until I listened again to the next one. Beth Jeans Houghton started going by “Du Blonde” in 2014 partly as a response to industry sexism about what is expected out of young, presumably female artists. Du Blonde seems to continue her response to those expectations by melding a deeply intimate self-portrait with all the anger found in melodic and distorted guitar riffs.
As a whole, the album moves from a sad and settled grungy song about losing a lover, singing, “take me home so I can breathe / In my own sheets just one more time / Before I get you off my mind,” to a settled and calm acoustic beauty of a song, “On the Radio,” singing to another that “I don’t seem to suit you / but you still want to try me on and see. Throughout the album, Houghton moves us through her bedsheets, love lost, anxiety, and idleness that leaves the listener wondering what hope there is for the next generation.
Honesty and slowness might be what drives that hope for a future. In the wickedly sexy “Peach Meat,” Houghton brings into a bedroom, sparing just enough detail, drawling, “I imagine my head / raising your bedsheets / stuck to your peach meat.”
Slow, engaging, and loud, the track is grounded by a distorted guitar riff that sounds like AC/DC minus misogyny and masculine bravado.
The fact that Houghton is taking us through a rather banal day of lounging and love-making reminds us that whatever is bothering Houghton, it might just be solved by some honesty about our bodies and their limits.
The following track, “Holiday Resort,” drills deep into the physical deterioration that is painfully obvious to her: “Spoke to my doctor / He said I’ve passed my peak /All my eggs are dying / In my twenties I’m antique / And I never learned to drive / And I never harnessed my mystique.” Reading only the lyrics, you might think that Houghton is full of regret. But the beat is fast, and energy actually lends itself to reveal a sly smile that may be Houghton indeed harnessing that mystique. Watch her spaghetti bath to see what I mean.
The track that most reminded me of how developed Houghton’s sound has become is “Baby Talk,” a fairly traditional rock song with just a few chords, overdriven guitars, a chorus to lighten Houghton’s voice, and just enough scheduled pauses to help you synchronize your headbanging. Despite all of that, it reminded me of some of the best tracks on P.J. Harvey’s “Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea.”
“Lung Bread for Daddy” is the kind of album that critics will review in ten years as an example of an artist at the remarkable transition of becoming an exceptional songwriter. We should take note.
Words by Nirmal Trivedi.