Music

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

Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose has an intriguing grab bag mentality, but one wonders if a little focus would help in making Houghton’s music more memorable.


Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves of Destiny

Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose

Label: Mute
US Release Date: 2012-02-28
UK Release Date: 2012-02-06
Amazon
iTunes

Those who find Florence Welch's mainstream success off-putting, and her theatrics a bit too treated, have reason to take comfort in Beth Jeans Houghton's more low-key compositions. Being signed to Mute and calling her full-length debut Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose makes it clear Houghton won't be a musical guest on Saturday Night Live or playing shows in Central Park anytime soon. Yet, Houghton's music is far from being suitably odd enough to warrant its loopy album title or Houghton's stage persona (think tiger suits and PJ Harvey's make-up kit circa To Bring You My Love). Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose has an intriguing grab bag mentality, but one wonders if a little focus would help in making Houghton’s music more memorable.

Houghton is one of those pretty folk nymphs who could easily double as a model for an all-natural pore-cleanser. But she's versed in odder sounds – Frank Zappa is a favourite – than some of her peers and has some impressive collaborators: Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose is produced by Ben Hillier, who took the same credit on Think Tank by Blur. Houghton seems to be the best of all worlds, but is she really? Her songs are fairly unpredictable, but they are also quite a ways from revolutionary. There is no eye-opening revision of folk here, but then again Houghton is only 21. It may be unfair to expect Houghton to reinvent a genre when she doesn't even like being labeled as folk. An alternative tag dreamed up by the bassist for her backing band, The Hooves of Destiny, is "sonic theatre," and, no, this man did not choke on his own pretension after coining that.

The highs on the album are galaxy-bound. "Dodecahedron" is stirring, particularly during its outro when Houghton's voice floats over the backing chorus laid out by her Hooves. In subject, it covers slightly similar material to Laura Marling's "Night Terror" but makes something far more ethereal out of the subject matter. "Sweet Tooth Bird" is a peppy and shambling opener that saves itself from some made-up label like folk-garage through the inclusion of some catchy trumpeting.

Houghton’s voice is far less showy than some of her peers, but she still has an impressive amount of vocal dexterity, particularly on softer songs like the almost soulful “Veins.” Houghton’s guitar playing, however, suffers from being too consistently jaunting. Musically overall, the galloping beat motif throughout the album wears with continued listens. Another mismeasured ingredient is spoken word diversions, a route taken in the back-to-back tracks “Atlas” and “Nightswimmer.” When this trail is discarded halfway through, investing in it in the first place feels a bit senseless.

Houghton certainly has chops and much can be forgiven thanks to her age. Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose has enough bright moments to ensure that Houghton will hone her experimentation in time. As lovely as it would be for Houghton to start cramming some Zappa-styled ideas into her songs, it is apparent that Houghton wants her songs to stick. Yours Truly, alas, just wasn't made with a strong enough adhesive.

6


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

Great Peacock Stares Down Mortality With "High Wind" (premiere + interview)

Southern rock's Great Peacock offer up a tune that vocalist Andrew Nelson says encompasses their upcoming LP's themes. "You are going to die one day. You can't stop the negative things life throws at you from happening. But, you can make the most of it."

Music

The 80 Best Albums of 2015

Travel back five years ago when the release calendar was rife with stellar albums. 2015 offered such an embarrassment of musical riches, that we selected 80 albums as best of the year.

Film

Buridan's Ass and the Problem of Free Will in John Sturges' 'The Great Escape'

Escape in John Sturge's The Great Escape is a tactical mission, a way to remain in the war despite having been taken out of it. Free Will is complicated.

Books

The Redemption of Elton John's 'Blue Moves'

Once reviled as bloated and pretentious, Elton John's 1976 album Blue Moves, is one of his masterpieces, argues author Matthew Restall in the latest installment of the 33 1/3 series.

Music

Whitney Take a Master Class on 'Candid'

Although covers albums are usually signs of trouble, Whitney's Candid is a surprisingly inspired release, with a song selection that's eclectic and often obscure.

Music

King Buzzo Continues His Reign with 'Gift of Sacrifice'

King Buzzo's collaboration with Mr. Bungle/Fantômas bassist Trevor Dunn expands the sound of Buzz Osborne's solo oeuvre on Gift of Sacrifice.

Music

Jim O'Rourke's Experimental 'Shutting Down Here' Is Big on Technique

Jim O'Rourke's Shutting Down Here is a fine piece of experimental music with a sure hand leading the way. But it's not pushing this music forward with the same propensity as Luc Ferrari or Derek Bailey.

Music

Laraaji Returns to His First Instrument for 'Sun Piano'

The ability to help the listener achieve a certain elevation is something Laraaji can do, at least to some degree, no matter the instrument.

Music

Kristin Hersh Discusses Her Gutsy New Throwing Muses Album

Kristin Hersh thinks influences are a crutch, and chops are a barrier between artists and their truest expressions. We talk about life, music, the pandemic, dissociation, and the energy that courses not from her but through her when she's at her best.

Music

The 10 Best Fleetwood Mac Solo Albums

Fleetwood Mac are the rare group that feature both a fine discography and a successful series of solo LPs from their many members. Here are ten examples of the latter.

Music

Jamila Woods' "SULA (Paperback)" and Creative Ancestry and Self-Love in the Age of "List" Activism

In Jamila Woods' latest single "SULA (Paperback)", Toni Morrison and her 1973 novel of the same name are not static literary phenomena. They are an artist and artwork as galvanizing and alive as Woods herself.

Film

The Erotic Disruption of the Self in Paul Schrader's 'The Comfort of Strangers'

Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers presents the discomfiting encounter with another —someone like you—and yet entirely unlike you, mysterious to you, unknown and unknowable.

Music

'Can You Spell Urusei Yatsura' Is a Much Needed Burst of Hopefulness in a Desultory Summer

A new compilation online pulls together a generous helping of B-side action from a band deserving of remembrance, Scotland's Urusei Yatsura.

Music

Jess Cornelius Creates Tautly Constructed Snapshots of Life

Former Teeth & Tongue singer-songwriter Jess Cornelius' Distance is an enrapturing collection of punchy garage-rock, delicate folk, and arty synthpop anthems which examine liminal spaces between us.

Books

Sikoryak's 'Constitution Illustrated' Pays Homage to Comics and the Constitution

R. Sikoryak's satirical pairings of comics characters with famous and infamous American historical figures breathes new and sometimes uncomfortable life into the United States' most living document.

Music

South African Folk Master Vusi Mahlasela Honors Home on 'Shebeen Queen'

South African folk master Vusi Mahlasela pays tribute to his home and family with township music on live album, Shebeen Queen.

Music

Planningtorock Is Queering Sound, Challenging Binaries, and Making Infectious Dance Music

Planningtorock emphasizes "queering sound and vision". The music industry has its hierarchies of style, of equipment, of identities. For Jam Rostron, queering music means taking those conventions and deliberately manipulating and subverting them.

Music

'History Gets Ahead of the Story' for Jazz's Cosgrove, Medeski, and Lederer

Jazz drummer Jeff Cosgrove leads brilliant organ player John Medeski and multi-reed master Jeff Lederer through a revelatory recording of songs by William Parker and some just-as-good originals.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.