Beth Jeans Houghton & the Hooves of Destiny: Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose – review

(Mute)

It's no surprise to learn that Beth Jeans Houghton has synesthesia, a condition that causes her to "taste" colours (red is just like Safeway crisps, apparently). Her music is so striking it seems only natural that her cognitive facilities work differently. This debut is a kind of Beth in Wonderland, comprising martial beats, lullaby strings and Houghton's wide-eyed vocals, accented by lyrics Lewis Carroll might write – if he were a 21-year-old Geordie woman ("Last night I dreamed of dodecahedrons/ My eyes were bleeding with crimson sight").

Heard as a complete piece, it has an airy, fairytale quality; dissected, the songs are dense, multilayered creations stuffed with ukulele, glockenspiel and Wurlitzer. The Barely Skinny Bone Tree is one of the few tracks that keeps it simple, skipping delicately between a cappella vocal, folky strumming and a violin top note, and nothing else. At their most complex – Sweet Tooth Bird, for instance – the songs bring to mind fellow sprite Alison Goldfrapp, which is no bad thing. A great start.

Contributor

Caroline Sullivan

The GuardianTramp

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