Houghton is a Geordie with a folky background. The album sounds more than a bit like The Fiery Furnaces in places, which is not necessarily a good thing. But in her mouth, the kookiness sounds a little more convincing. The voice is certainly clearer and more powerful.
There's an occasional tinge of rockabilly ("Atlas" being a good example) and there are naked women with the heads of lions on the cover. "Nightswimmer" is much better than that REM number - it has imitation harpsichord and a wry spring in its step. None of that baleful piano hammering. Even though it sounds as though her fella has flooded the bathroom.
Chamber strings are put to excellent pop use throughout ("Franklin Benedict" a fine example of that) - playing all the right notes necessarily in the right order. There may even been some bells in there. I get the feeling of a pop Quixote, but I can't work out the windmills.
Rating: Best Thing To Come out of Newcastle Since Carter