Have You Fed the Fish?
label: Artist Direct BMG
our score: 3.0 out of 5.0
his debut release The Hour of Bewilderbeast in 2000 talk
abounded in the underground "cool" rock community of
Damon Gough (a.k.a. Badly Drawn Boy)'s penchant for superb songwriting.
Early EPs and his track on UNKLE (DJ Shadow and James Lavelle)'s
Psyence Fiction album sent Gough into the collective
unconscious of the rock elitists. And when Hour... was
finally released in 2000, the prognosticators cheered and fans
of indie slacker pop took notice.
follow up with a proper album, Gough instead opted to score the
About a Boy film (based on the Nick Hornby novel). With
its release, many kept a careful eye on Gough to see where Badly
Drawn Boy was going for the next album. About a Boy's
pop sheen did, in fact, turn a few off - hoping for another trip
down Bewilderbeast lane.
The thing is,
Badly Drawn Boy is a superb songwriter, arranger, and musician.
About a Boy was concrete evidence of this, and his latest
album, Have You Fed the Fish? continues the trend. Where
Bewilderbeast found a healthy variety of somewhat sulking
pop songs and interesting bits of interludes (all creating an
album wholly worthy of Badly Drawn Boy's receipt of the 2000 Mercury
Award), Have You Fed the Fish? is purely pop confections.
But it's damn
fine pop. While at times Gough seems to be writing songs in his
sleep, what's really amazing here is the lack of pretension.
He's singing about his shopping list, and he's singing about dreams
of Madonna and the Queen: "And I / Just had a dream the other
night / I was married to the Queen / And Madonna lived next door
/ I think she took a shine to me / And the kids were all grown
up / But I had to turn her down / Because I was still in love
with you." Yeah, it sounds lazy - but every time you hear
this song you'll be anxious in anticipation for the verse (and
pretty much every other silly little moment here).
are low points here ("Born Again," "All Possibilities"),
but they're pretty high lows. It's kind of like comparing Season
4 of The Sopranos to the other seasons... sure it's not as
good, but comparatively speaking it's still one of the best shows
(artists) around. And the high points? Hell - you can't do much
better for pop ditties than "40 Days and 40 Fights"
and "You Were Right." Honestly.
Fed the Fish? finds Badly Drawn Boy at a new point in his
career. He's no longer the indie-pop art-school rocker from Bewilderbeast.
No, he's an artist who's on his way to being a classic. It's just
going to take a bit more time and you'll be singing these songs
in a drunken stupor at your kids' weddings.
liked Have You Fed the Fish?...
1. Coming In To Land
2. Have You Fed the Fish?
3. Born Again
4. 40 Days, 40 Fights
5. All Possibilities
6. I Was Wrong
7. You Were Right
8. Centre Peace
10. The Further I Slide
11. Imaginary Lines
12. Using Our Feet
13. Tickets to What You Need
14. What Is It Now
15. Bedside Story