Badly Drawn Boy

Record Review

Phases and Stages

Badly Drawn Boy

About a Boy (BMG) Exactly why the endearing pop charms of Mancunian songsmith Damon Gough (aka Badly Drawn Boy) have failed to catch on stateside remains one of life's more exquisite mysteries. His first full-length album, 2000's Hour of the Bewilderbeast, ably stole the limelight from Coldplay and former Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft at that year's Mercury Music Prize fête, although that Brit equivalent of our own Grammies has traditionally made little impact on the American record-buying public. Their loss. This 16-song soundtrack to the Hugh Grant-starring Nick Hornby adaptation is a blissful summery popgasm, retaining the Nick Drake-on-sunshine appeal of Bewilderbeast, while substituting a more acoustic-based approach to the previous album's cagey electronics. Split between brief but appealing soundtrack fillers, and full-fledged goose pimplers like the breathy, Sixties-era "File Me Away," About a Boy is that rarest of bewildering beasties, the soundtrack that stands by itself. You needn't see the film to appreciate what BDB has done here. The album moves from the lilting bounce of "Something to Talk About" to the funky, hand-clapping, brass-infused jounce of "S.P.A.T.," with those aforementioned micro-tracks acting as a sort of emotional bridge between the swim 'n' sway of more boisterous bits. For die-hard fans of Hornby's books like myself, the best thing about BDB's soundtrack is that, above all, it feels like a proper score for the author's words, and that's a tough one to pull off for any songwriter. Even if there were no film adaptation of About a Boy, this collection of breezy, easy tracks could just as easily lull you to drowsing as Hornby's novel slips chestward on a sunny Sunday afternoon spent in your favorite reading chair, a warm Guinness at your side.

*** .5

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
X: The Godless Void and Other Stories (Record Review)

Alejandra Ramirez, Feb. 21, 2020

Texas Platters
Daniel Johnston
Chicago 2017 (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Feb. 21, 2020

More by Marc Savlov
Duty Free
Around the world in 77 years in this tale of new ambition in old age

May 7, 2021

The Outside Story
After a year trapped inside, a welcome comedic reminder of life in fresh air

April 30, 2021

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle