The personal revolution of Beth Jeans Houghton embodied on Welcome Back To Milk, her debut as Du Blonde, was both arresting and endearing. It’s follow up, Lung Bread For Daddy, was either going to be another enactment of reinvention or an ongoing chronicle of life as Du Blonde.
Not only does Lung Bread… authenticate its predecessor, it’s even more brutal in its self-reflection. Where Welcome… saw Houghton retrospectively examining her life with a crushing personal honesty, asserting herself on a world that had been allowed to shape her, Lung Bread inverts that honesty and paints a Bacon-esque picture of ownership to the point of deprecation and masochism.
The entire album is driven by a complex and considered study of Houghton’s own attitudes to her relationships, with others and with herself, and of an understanding of toxicity, both internal and external.
From the man she’d rather have than the coffee machine on the record’s opener, to the voice of a past love she longs for on ‘Holiday Resort’, Houghton is frank when it comes to documenting her relationships. In the process, she’s unapologetic for the detrimental contradictions that plague modern relationship, shedding guilty by virtue of her honesty. Pinning for a relationship gone bad might seem irrational, but attempts to crush emotions beneath the heel of logic are often more damaging than curative.
She’s also candid when it comes to unpacking the minutia of private moments and habits (“I buy cigarettes/ I leave the foil on / In case I spoil one”, “I spend my days in the solace of my room / Pulling pubic hairs from the crotch of my swimming costume”), and in doing so clears an open space for musings on what they might mean. She exposes a tendency to glamorise the lives of others and denigrate our own lived experience.
And while there’s undeniably something heavy hanging over the album’s subject matter, the overarching atmosphere of Lung Bread… is one of cathartic release, of being able to express and be at terms with an internal conflict after much private wrestling.
There are regular moments of musical euphoria – the strutting simplicity of ‘Take Out Chicken’, the screeching guitar line of ‘Angel’ – that emphasise this reality, that undercut the assumptions that sometimes come with such barefaced self-portraits – namely, that a process bourne of a depressive period is itself depressive.
Lung Bread For Daddy finds Houghton uncompromising, both towards herself and the world around her, but celebratory at having found a way to actualise and acclimatise her feelings. Where Welcome Back To Milk was an affirmation of self among an interfering world, Lung Bread For Daddy takes ownership of that self and embarks on an investigation into what it means, how it feels, where it’s strong, where it’s weak. Houghton does nothing to disguise how challenging the process has been, but nor does she hide how essential it is.
LUNG BREAD FOR DADDY BY DU BLONDE IS OUT ON MOSHI MOSHI FEBRUARY 22ND. ORDER HERE.