Sunday, February 12, 2012

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

Album Rating: B+
At this point in the year, one might go so far as to say that Beth Jeans Houghton is a rather masterful tease artist.  The 2011 release of singles 'Dodecahedron' and 'Liliputt' catapulted Houghton and her ever-loyal backing from The Hooves of Destiny directly into the spotlight of British and American critics alike, with an indefinite release date allowing listeners plenty of time to immerse themselves in the tracks before offering them any more.  Alas, almost an entire year after the release of the record's front-running single, Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose arrives in full to sate the palates of eager listeners.  Worth the wait in every which way, YT,CN is an eccentric and elegant journey through the quirky musical mind of Beth Jeans Houghton herself.

It becomes pretty clear from the get-go that a lot of thought and time went into creating the soundscapes of Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose.  Unconventional textures and elements are stacked and layered in nearly every imaginable space of the record, with everything from melancholic violins to brass ensembles and dueling glockenspiels adding to the mix, but at the epicenter stands the indomitable and unwavering force of Miss Houghton and her sugary-sweet voice.  Whether accompanied by a slew of orchestral counterparts or bearing the pressure of the stage alone, the vocals ebb and flow, dillying and dallying confidently and without flaw.  Opener 'Sweet Tooth Bird' showcases the LP's more celebratory side, with BJH's layered vocals drifting atop a continuously compounding musical backdrop amidst trumpet fanfare and spacey, Gaga-esque breakdowns.  It almost goes without mentioning how much of a treat lead single 'Dodecahedron' is, starting only with the humble pair of Houghton and her guitar but building into a raucous, full-fledged, and fanciful finish. 

Despite its immediate like-ability, Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose suffers where such avant-garde endeavors before it have done the same.  A general lack of transitions between songs accounts for some serious disjointed-ness within the record's thirty-four minute playtime, and unfocused songwriting on Houghton's part leaves some of the tracks feeling more like a dress rehearsal than part of the finished product.  Still, the album offers an interesting and compelling enough compilation of sounds to keep its minor faults at bay.  Songs like 'Night Swimmer' or 'Carousel', with their peculiar but tempting uses of melody and tempo changes, present a product worthy of multiple listens, and that seems to be all that Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves of Destiny are really asking for.  All in all, Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose is the product of a band with some refreshingly quirky ideas on the production of music, and one that sets Miss Houghton as a force worth keeping and eye on in the future.


1. Sweet Tooth Bird
2. Humble Digs
3. Dodecahedron
4. Atlas
5. Night Swimmer
6. The Barely Skinny Bone Tree
7. Liliputt
8. Veins
9. Franklin Benedict
10. Carousel
11. Prick AKA Sean (Bonus Track)

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