As proven so eloquently in our previous issue’s gorgeous cover story, Miss Houghton is a firecracker to contend with – small yet mighty and very headstrong, when she explodes, she covers her debut album in iridescent sparks that take your breath away. Floating like a geordie Joni Mitchell over the cosmic folky cloud of her accompanying Hooves, it would seem that her breathy vocals fall softly like snowflakes, dusting their musical landscape with a blanket of angelic delicateness. But as it thaws, it reveals a harsher side to Houghton’s mischievous personality. It’s a wicked streak that runs through ‘Yours Truly…’ and one that tantalises. As the album’s opening lines fittingly warn: “I knew a bird with words so sweet / That they would god damn rot your teeth”.
In their finer moments, the Hooves scale heady Spector-ish heights – ‘Dodecahedron’ swells with sparkling xylophones and strings, while ‘Liliputt’ gallops along upon rollicking drums. When they veer towards straighter folk (‘Nightswimmer’, ‘The Barely Skinny Bone Tree’) it’s hard to ignore Beth’s comparisons with Laura Marling, but to be blessed with two incredible homegrown starlets is surely a blessing. However, it’s the effervescence and humour of Houghton and her Hooves that separate the two.
That the departing words on the album are “Fuck off!”, courtesy of the rampant Pogues-like hidden final track, is entirely appropriate – she may not take life too seriously, but when it comes to making divine music, Beth means business.
Words by SIMON HARPER