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Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves of Destiny – Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose (Review)

Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves of Destiny, Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

BETH Jeans Houghton is a 21-year-old singer-songwriter who is wilfully eccentric but effortlessly delightful.

She’s been tipped as a Next Big Thing for some time, having generally impressed with the release of an early EP (Hot Toast) and single (Golden/Night Swimmer), before briefly disappearing from the scene during which, by her own admission, she chose to fell in love with and explore LA.

Nevertheless, she used the time well… recording the ensuing debut album with the help of producer Ben Hillier (Blur, Elbow, Depeche Mode, Doves) and forming her band The Hooves of Destiny.

In her own inimitable manner, she subsequently describes that LP, Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose as ‘an animal I’m preparing to ride’… That is to say: “Grooming it, feeding it, braiding its hair, and I feel that Ben has built me a saddle that is both practical and comfortable to use.”

It’s also easy on the ear, if such a leap can be made from those words! Kicking off amid a fanfare of chiming melodies and corrida trumpets, not to mention tinkling pianos and lively back-beats, Sweet Tooth Bird is a joyous song that recalls the bombast of The Polyphonic Spree mixed with the bravura vocalism of Imogen Heap.

It’ll immediately make you excited for what’s to follow…

Humble Dogs slows down the tempo a little, laying down a delicious vocal, layering in a marching drum beat and slick banjo licks, and once more leaving your feet tapping along with a smile on your face. There are flights of fantasy taken along the way, moments where the song veers into psychedelic or free-form territory, but this only adds to the charm. You’re never quite sure where a track may head next.

Little drummer boy beats and honeysweet vocals accompany another favourite, Dodecahedron… which again showcases her off-kilter lyrics and instrumental sense of adventure. Whenever you think you have the measure of it, the song does something different while still managing to charm and excite. The gruff backing vocals provide a nice contrast to Beth’s lead ones too.

The album’s most brilliant offering then follows in the form of Atlas, a rollicking pop-rock track that’s arguably as close to conventional as Beth gets… yet thrillingly unique at the same time.

Kicking off amid rolling drums and a rollicking guitar riff, it then introduces another cracking high-pitched vocal from Beth set against foreboding backing harmonies and a sudden change of pace over the chorus, which strips things down before picking it back up to thrilling effect.

Elsewhere, former single Lilliput initially calms things down with an impossibly sweet ukulele intro and soaring vocal harmonies, before layering in the layered melodies, while Franklin Benedict trades electric guitar riffs with violins to create a rhapsody that’s by turns pop-orientated and grandly cinematic.

Veins, on the other hand, sets some gospel-tinged backing against another radio-friendly offering that draws tempting comparisons to the likes of Florence + The Machine, only even more adventurous.

Come final track Carousel, with its ever evolving structure and classical arrangements, you should really be blown away and craving a repeat listen to catch all the things you missed. It’s that kind of musical adventure: rich, diverse, upbeat and continually impressive.

Download picks: Atlas, Humble Dogs, Sweet Tooth Bird, Dodecahedron, Liliputt, Veins, Franklin Benedict

Track listing:

  1. Sweet Tooth Bird
  2. Humble Dogs
  3. Dodecahedron
  4. Atlas
  5. Night Swimmer
  6. The Barely Skinny Bone
  7. Liliputt
  8. Veins
  9. Franklin Benedict
  10. Carousel