Badly Drawn Boy, he of the perennial woolly bobble hat, is back, the guitar toting troubadour releases his fifth studio album ‘Born in the UK’ on the 16th of October. Badly Drawn Boy-or, as he’s known to his mates, Damon Gough- came to the musical fore with his debut album ‘The Hour of the Bewilderbeast’, released in June 2000. It was critically acclaimed, and went on to win him that year’s prestigious and highly coveted Mercury Music Prize. There’s no categorising Badly Drawn Boy: he is, quite simply, without equal. In this day and age of homogenised, hermetically sealed, production line pop his albums are a breath of proverbial fresh air. As gloriously and unabashedly eccentric as he is; a hotch potch of styles, a miasma of melodies, each one is a riot of sheer musical genius. And ‘Born in the UK’ is no exception.
‘The Hour of the Bewilderbeast’s’ stunning success spurred Badly Drawn Boy onto yet more greatness: the confident, accomplished and radiant in its own right soundtrack to ‘About a Boy’, 2002’s ‘Have You Fed the Fish’, and fourth album ‘One plus One is One’.
And that’s when Lady Luck cashed in her chips and it all started to go a bit, well, wrong. The creative wining streak that had blessed Badly Drawn Boy for nigh on four years had deserted him. Just like that.
He tried to make headway on a fifth album. Really tried, but it just wasn’t happening. The twenty or so songs that he’d managed to cobble together were abandoned, along with the fast-fading hope of ever getting any new material out.
But then, something changed. Badly Drawn Boy was back in ‘the zone’. And ‘Born in the UK’ is the result.
It’s a beautifully honest collection of songs that resonates with the raw emotion of Badly Drawn Boy’s delicate and lilting vocals. It’s whimsical, charming and utterly outstanding. ‘Born in the UK’ is a triumph: there is not a single track on the album that is anything less than brilliant. Title track ‘Born in the UK’ is a melodic romp through various events that have shaped the UK as a country, and, as Badly Drawn Boy asserts, events that shaped his past. Essentially it’s a potted history of UK current affairs in the latter twentieth century, from the perspective of a scruffy, oddball thirty-something Macunian musician. Only Badly Draw Boy could pull it off convincingly, and he does so with aplomb. It’s an upbeat, quirky, celebration of all things British that makes you feel compelled to stand up and belt out the national anthem loudly, and, invariably, tunelessly. The other stand out track on the album is wonderfully retro ‘Welcome to the Overground’. It’s cheery, it has a big extravagant chorus, it’s very ‘Age of Aquarius’, it’s delightful. It has a sublimely happy, hippy, 70s vibe to it that raises an instantaneous smile. Brimming full of ‘Mamas and the Papas’-esque optimism, it captures you immediately, and refuses to let go.
‘Born in the UK’ sees badly Drawn Boy back on form; Lady Luck is shining once again: this album is a gem. And a rare one at that. If you love your music with a lot of heart, then ‘Born in the UK’ is sure to enthral you.
Written for: Entertainment Wise