Despite a penchant for wearing animal suits, funny hats and fake moustaches, Beth Jeans Houghton and her band The Hooves of Destiny can’t be dismissed as trendy hipster-fodder. Over a relatively standard indie background of noodling guitars and clattering drums, Houghton’s voice (distinctly English, in an old-fashioned way) sings melodies the likes of which may not have been heard since the 1960s folk revival.
First track, Sweet Tooth Bird is fast and furious yet anthemic, as though The Hooves of Destiny are a marching band made up of squirrels. Many of the other songs on the album are slower and yes, folkier than the perky opener, but the folk comparisons that apparently rile Houghton so much do not spring from the music so much as from her voice. With her proper British accent and light timbre she sounds at times like a young Marianne Faithful, and at other times like Nico. Houghton’s timeless voice makes her sound older than she is (perhaps her rumoured lover, 49 year old Anthony Kiedis, mistook the 21 year old for someone older after hearing her sing?).
Sweeping orchestral elements, the plucking of violin strings, hymn-like moments, electronic flourishes and gravelly male vocals blend seamlessly and provide a perfect foil for Houghton’s unexpected melodies and lyrics. Though the music is created by the band as a group, Houghton is responsible for the lyrics. Poetry has long formed an outlet for Houghton, who has a condition called synaesthesia, where senses that are usually experienced separately are experienced together (e.g. numbers may appear coloured, or months of the year have personalities). This has to be the best disorder for a lyricist to suffer from since opiate addiction, and ensures the songs are laden with original imagery.
Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose is a layered and beautiful first album that has much more depth and appeal than its name would suggest.
Kathryn van Beek
Click here to listen to Sweet Tooth Bird from Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose: