When news broke that Badly Drawn Boy had delayed his next album to work on a soundtrack, even the most devoted fans seemed to complain. Perhaps there is a negative perception that a soundtrack restricts the artist to mere disregarded snippets of sound. Whatever you thought about soundtracks before, let About a Boy set the record straight. Damon Gough has skillfully written a captivating album which makes the film a visual exhibition of sound, and also reassures those true BDB followers that it was well worth delaying the next full studio album.
The album seems to fluently communicate with the listener from the outset. For example, the modern jazz spin on “A Peak You Reach” could well be the umbilical chord which flawlessly connects this album to the last and “Something To Talk About” is one of those instantly likable tracks flavoured with true Badly Drawn Boy zest. “Silent Sigh” shows a slight progression in the Badly Drawn Boy songwriting department, fusing a heavily addictive piano riff with lyrics sung with emotion. You get the impression that this was the untainted first take on the song from the impulsive undercurrent which flows throughout.
Despite being an original motion picture soundtrack, this is in no way background music, as it is frequently brought to the forefront of the film at its most crucial moments. Daringly different songs make sure that no song merely fades into the background, from the upbeat “Delta (Little Boy Blues)” to “SPAT,” which mixes cool funk with an 80s influence.
If you remove the film from the equation, then this album is still about a boy; it reveals a Badly Drawn Boy who appears more receptive and focused. It couldn’t have been easy writing the follow up to The Hour of Bewilderbeast, yet Gough has ostensibly put the acclaim of his debut behind him. He has written an album which not only steps out of the footprints left in the wake of The Hour of Bewilderbeast but confidently saunters into new territory… a giant leap for Badly Drawn Boy.
Written by Paul Newbold.