Badly Drawn Boy: “Born in the UK”

In anticipation of the new Badly Drawn Boy album, Born in the UK (due on Oct. 17 on Astralwerks), I dusted off his back catalog over the weekend to reacquaint myself.

No matter what Badly Drawn Boy (born Damon Gough) does from here forward, he’ll always be a sentimental favorite for me; Annie and I chose his song The Shining for her walk down the aisle at our wedding more than two years ago.

But I’ll be interested to see how his new album is received. He doesn’t strike me as the type of artist that will stir much buzz among the blogs.

Talented as I think he is, Badly Drawn Boy does just as much to befuddle me. We saw him in Tempe, Ariz., in support of his last album, One Plus One Is One, a couple years back. For some reason, BDB insisted – somewhat stubbornly – on playing only new songs for the first half of the show, as if he had some point to prove. I’m sure there was some deep, artistic interpretation to what he was doing, but it didn’t seem like the best way to ingratiate himself to the crowd.

Musically, One Plus One Is One threw me a bit as well. It felt – and still does – dense and overdone. The song Year of the Rat is a great example. I love what that song should be; instead, there’s timpani drums, a disrupting ride cymbal and a chorus sung by children. His arrangements seem headed toward exaggerated levels that wash out his more introspective sincerity, which is what drew me to him in the first place. Though, he’s always been prone to unironic (cheesy?) grandioseness: “The keys to your heart open the door to the world” (opening line on the title track to Have You Fed the Fish?). Yipes. Yet, I still get chills listening to You Were Right, which lays on the cheese factor pretty heavy.

So I’m curious just enough to see what he has in store on Born in the UK, a pretty obvious play off Born in the USA. An homage to his home country, the title track, a straightforward rocker, references Sid Vicious, John Lennon and the Union Jack among others.

Video: Born in the UK
Real Player: High | Low
Windows Media: High | Low

I’m trying to secure an mp3 from the new album. Until then:
mp3: The Shining (The Avalanches Good Word for the Weekend Remix)

4 thoughts on “Badly Drawn Boy: “Born in the UK””

  1. Hey Kevin,
    Thanks for the head’s up on a new BDB disc on the way, I had no idea. So when you went to the Marquee Thater show a few years back did you happen to get their early enough to catch Ray LaMontagne open?

  2. Kevin,

    Yeah. We were there early enough. Unfortunately, we didn’t know who Ray L. was at the time. I think we went outside and socialized instead. Sigh.

  3. For some reason I missed the obvious play on “born in the usa”, but it makes total sense – the last time i saw him in toronto he had a 15 minute story about meeting bruce springsteen and why he thought thunder road was the greatest song ever….

  4. I saw BDB last year at Blue Cats in Knoxville, TN. He told the Sprinsteen story like Chris mentioned. At the show he played One Plus One Is One from beginning to end as the first half of the show, went to the back, continued drinking, then came back out to play whatever the audience requested. By the end of the night he was pissed (drunk). It was a good show though. He played for a really long time.

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