It’s the third track through when you realise Welcome Back To Milk is probably going to be the best thing to come out of 2015. I’m not one for hyperbole, but listening to this is like being shot in the face by a canon: angst, glam, and spine shivering vocals melted into a lead ball to come punching through your skull. Brain matter splattered and floating in the tears of your weeping soul – brought on by piano ballads ‘Four In The Morning’ and ‘Isn’t It Wild’ – you find yourself satisfied. The record devours any biological-stereotypical-ignorant thought on a female lead singer bringing out something that’s filled with just as much cock-rock and heavy riffs as serenading vocals; vocals that have just as much range as style. All together it gives you a twitchy habit in replaying the whole thing again.
Newcastle born, L.A established: what was once Beth Jeans Houghton is now heart-ravaged Du Blonde and has reconfigured her musical armoury into an angry melancholic spear with an edge that’s familiar, pop-wise, and in touch with her folky-melody roots. She now has twelve new tracks that have just as much bite as melodic-precision. It’s on ‘Raw Honey’ you hear the sleepy eyed, tale-teller verses of heartbreak – which are enough to win you over – and then that fuzzy-fat riff lurking under the surface for two minutes explodes into a grand bluesy exit, sweeping you off into the ether. Catchy-hook riffing has existed in the masses and has of course been adopted by contemporaries from Arctic Monkeys to the Gaslight Anthem, but lead guitar in tracks like ‘Raw Honey’ and the chorus anthemic ‘Hunter’ are what gives you reason to jump out of a ten storey building window with a sick smile on your face hugging a vinyl of Welcome Back To Milk.
The album has a constant energetic fury that doesn’t ever get close to becoming stale: ‘Young Entertainment’ and it’s psych-siren intro; ’Chips To Go’ a heart palpitating, riff/vox synced reminiscence of No Doubt; and fem-powered fuck-it-all ‘Hard To Please’. Depending on your taste – and that’s what’s fundamental about this album: its sound is beautifully varied yet doesn’t obnoxiously jump out of its comfort zone – it’s the punk-powered haymaker tracks ‘Black Flag’, ‘Mr. Hyde,’ and ‘If You’re Legal’ that drive this whole thing off the cliff in a blaze of vicious, delightful, righteous glory. Even though there’s something unsettlingly brazen about titling the first track after a famous punk band, I can come to terms with marketable techniques when the song is actually good.
On the sixth listen through, you begin to do some research into potential major record label produces that you’ll have to assassinate if she doesn’t get offered a juicy deal after this. It’s a grim situation to put one’s self in, but you have to seriously consider these things when an album like Welcome Back To Milk comes out. Future Islands’ Samuel T. Herring makes a Michael Bolton-esque appearance on ‘Mind Is On My Mind’. The cameo is that powerful and well produced, you question the seriousness of it, but it becomes abundantly clear that this song is more epic than funny; guitar work and Herring’s voice give it a truly special taste that spices up the record ready for a beautifully sentimental ending. In spite of recent tragic news that Cameron is staying in government, I thank him for chairing the British Music Export Scheme, giving extra fuel to the production of this relic. Nevertheless, you’re still a pigeon faced prick.
Live: 100 Club – June 4th