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coverpic flag England - Full Moon 77 - 01/18/03

Badly Drawn Boy
Have You Fed the Fish?
XL Recordings

"...and folks! If you take a look out of the right side of the plane you'll see a cloud that looks exactly like Badly Drawn Boy. And just so that you know: we'll be touching down in approximately 3.5 seconds..."

This is the intro to another fantastic journey with Badly Drawn Boy as the pilot/captain. Badly Drawn Boy, or Damon Gough as he's also known as, made a splendid debut with his acclaimed and awarded year 2000 album The Hour of Bewilderbeast. Here's his 'opus dei' (if we're not counting his soundtrack album About A Boy - two albums in a year, can you imagine). Badly Drawn Boy draws brilliant pop songs, and with Have You Fed the Fish (a.k.a. All Possibilities) he picks the fight with Beck over the pop/rock album of the year prize.

But where Mr. Hansen has fallen into a more laidback melancholy with his heartbroken-ness, Mr. Gough is sort of cheering up a bit, being a little less low than earlier. His melodies rise up and aim towards the sky, for in the next moment diving to submerge into the sea. His vehicle taking us around his wonderland is sort of a mixture of airplane/submarine. Hence the title of the album, and the cover art (passenger seats with a varied view of both fish'n'clouds, ships, planes, fish, birds, fish bowls, fish food) it seems like BDB's into a flying/floating/swimming/gliding vibe. Or maybe he's a big joker? As Groucho on the back sleeve. Nevertheless, his music is tasty no matter it tastes like bird or fish.

His nonchalant, slack pop is extremely focused, with a luscious flavour. The arrangements (horns and strings, you bet) and the songs are so elegantly and tastfully done, so flower-powered (without any hippie dribble) and grassy, so lively and full of air. Pure oxygen. Even the "submerged" songs. But his melancholic lyrical touch and perfectly twisted (twisted nerve...) pop melodies keeps him on a level making, uh, Robbie Williams look like a snotty school boy (well, he is a snotty school boy, a spoiled child). Thom Yorke should lend an ear to avoid suffocation within the pompous. Coldplay should learn something about not whining too much. And the millions could've learned to know Badly Drawn Boy.

It's hard to pull out a few tracks since the album is working such as a whole, but You Were Right plus its short prelude I Was Wrong are two in one of a kind. "I remember doing nothing on the night Sinatra died, and the night Jeff Buckley died, and the night Kurt Cobain died, and the night John Lennon died, I remember I stayed up to watch the news with everyone, and that was a lot of nights, and that was a lot of lives...".

Keep feeding your golden fish, Damon.

Copyright © 2003 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

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