ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON THE 405 (NOW DEFUNCT)
Du Blonde—FKA Beth Jeans Houghton—possesses a soul-crushing voice expressive of her constant struggle against sadness and loneliness. In fact, if you spin each one of her albums chronologically, she seems sadder with each passing record but increasingly profound nonetheless. Needless to say, this slow emotional decent has galvanized Du Blonde—culminating in the artist’s best and most crystalline work yet and what she deems, “a new incarnation and one step closer to assuming [her] ultimate form” with her entirely self-made record uniquely titled Lung Bread for Daddy. Though I mention Du Blonde’s former identity (Beth Jeans Houghton) as an extension of the artist we know today, Du Blonde is a completely different embodiment from the artist who placated listeners with art-pop gems like “Dodecahedron” and “Sweet Tooth Bird” from long ago. As Du Blonde puts it, she has freed herself from the rusty and bloody shackles of Beth Jeans Houghton – both musically and spiritually. The end result is her second album under the Du Blonde alias, a pervasive and persuasive compilation spruced with garage-rock leanings and a burning desire in a similar vein as Angel Olsen, Mitsky, PJ Harvey, etc. Overwraught comparisons aside, Du Blonde separates herself from her contemporaries with her latest album. Compared to Du Blonde’s prior record, Welcome Back To Milk, which brandished crunchier riffs, she opts for spacier, more drawn out moments with Lung Bread For Daddy. With the exception where Du Blonde relinquishes a brief pained howl of rage and desire, the opening cut “Coffee Machine” witnesses the English-born talent croon over delicately distorted guitar riffs, while the album’s closing track “On the Radio,” arguably the most somber moment of the entire record, is a raw, acoustic rock ballad that harkens to the mournful mystique of Jeff Buckley. While listeners will still experience unpredictable raucousness and infectiously foot-tapping indie rock with songs like “Take Out Chicken” and “Days Like These,” there’s no denying that Du Blonde’s latest is more ravishing in moments that musically mirror feelings of deep reflection and anguish. Even with the album’s most menacing cuts—”Peach Meat” and “Heaven Knows,” Du Blonde’s energy level has been taken down to a brooding notch, resulting in a record brimming with soul and a great sense of continuity. Despite the lack of exuberance and noise experienced with Du Blonde’s past projects, the passionate songstress sounds more alive than ever with enough lyrical and emotional heft to compensate. With quieter arrangements to wield to her advantage, Du Blonde allows her voice to roam free, reverberate further and resound deeper in the hearts of listeners as she unravels tales of unsatisfying relationships, disappointment and loneliness. When she sings on the track “Angel,” “So help me God, I hope that you weren't lying when you laid my body down,” Du Blonde’s witty wordplay and regret-filled tone is felt to anxious extremes. When on “Holiday Resort” she contemplates the realities of growing old and post-breakup depression. Du Blonde best displays her poetic ways with vividly startling lines like, "Looking down the barrel of a gun that I adore / I cannot feed a fire if I haven't got a lung full,” and “I spend my days in the solace of my room / Pulling pubic hairs from the crotch / Of my swimming costume / And I don't like the president / And I don't like your perfume.” Accompanied by her warm and husky voice, the somber shiver of Du Blonde’s words slashes through bouts of romantic instability and self-doubt, rendering lo-fi garage rock refreshing and most earnest. Throughout Lung Bread For Daddy, Du Blonde sounds as if she is constantly on the verge of losing grip of her emotional and mental torment. But because she weaves her feelings and contemplates the woes of her life like someone three times her age, Du Blonde’s latest offering emits surprising clarity and winds up as her most refined work to date.
THE 405 RATING: 7/10