Culture Trips

Du Blonde: Homecoming review – DIY at its weird, wilful finest | Pop and rock

If you want something done right, do it yourself: so Newcastle’s Beth Jeans Houghton resolved for her third record as Du Blonde. Tired of feeling limited by the industry, she wrote, recorded, produced and released Homecoming herself, right down to tie-dying her own merch. Despite this bravura show of self-reliance, she still makes space, in a record bursting and bouncing with fuzzy, pop-grunge hooks, for guests from Garbage’s Shirley Manson (on the heat-hazed, delirious Medicated) to Ezra Furman (the glam-punk scrap of I’m Glad That We Broke Up) and Andy Bell of Ride (the alternately dreamy and hard-rock-anthemic All the Way). Houghton is always centre stage, though, right from opener Pull the Plug, whose sweet, surfy melody and low, scuzzy riffs recall early Frank Black, as does the divinely nonchalant I Can’t Help You There.

The whole album conjures the catchiest moments of 90s Boston indie rock – Pixies, Belly, the Breeders. It’s a style appropriated by many, but invoked by a genuine, dedicated kook like Houghton, those dynamics live and breathe. Smoking Me Out, in particular, is a riot – a campy, monstrously distorted vocal on the verse contrasted with a blissfully sweet, sharp powerpop chorus: DIY at its wilful, weird finest.

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