Du Blonde is the latest musical project of Newcastle singer-songwriter Beth Jeans Houghton, who had minor success in 2012 with her debut album, Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose.
She toured extensively with her band The Hooves of Destiny, and they started work on a follow-up, only to become disenchanted with the results, scrap it and start again.
Houghton decided to go it alone, decamped to California, and announced earlier this year that she would now be known as Du Blonde.
Mixing a punk attitude with self-penned songs which blend psych-rock, blues and soul, it’s produced by Jim Sclavunos, a member of Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds and Grinderman, and he’s done a fine job in bringing out her spiky attitude.
Opener Black Flag has slashing guitars, pounding drums, rumbling bass and raging vocals, and it’s a taste of things to come.
The album really hits its stride midway through, with the stunning 1-2-3 of the swaggering Hard To Please, the potty-mouthed but excellent Young Entertainment and the slightly unhinged Mr Hyde, which resounds with Stooges-like guitar.
That would have been a fifting finale, but Beth shows a different side with the quieter, more thoughful tracks like the lovely Four In The Morning and Isn’t It Wild, which wouldn’t have been out of place on her folk-pop debut.
Whichever direction this musical chameleon takes next, she can be satisfied that she has come up with a contender for album of the year. 8.5/10 GW