Damon Gough’s determination to be too awkward for fame has finally turned him into a celebrity. Even hiding behind the cryptic pseudonym Badly Drawn Boy has lost its effectiveness.
Seething with the chaotic fun of a carnival midway, there’s plenty on Have You Fed The Fish (ARTISTdirect) that pleases. The title track opens with a looming, “Ghostbusters “-like intro and crescendos into an Eighties love anthem. “All Possibilities ” sails like a TV theme song circa Love Boat. “How? ” is a thick slice of power pop.
Gough’s dexterity genre-wise is matched by his deftness with lyrics and phrasing. Like Phish (though the similarities end here), his lyrics are strangely poetic in their childlike nonsense. “Now I’m ready to tell you what’s wrong with me/I’m feeling the emptiness rise/And I’d trade the whole thing quite gladly/For something of similar size/Shape, color, weight/Change your shirt, don’t be late, ” on “Tickets To What You Need ” almost feels like a Dr. Seussism.
But it’s not all deadpan silliness. “40 Days 40 Fights ” is much closer to the tone of About a Boy with its Beatles-like jauntiness and swing. And the single, “Born Again, ” has all the makings of an insta-hit without being focus group crap, reiterating the oft forgotten idea that the catchiest songs are often the simplest.
A wholly worthwhile album that sees Badly Drawn Boy’s charisma in full force. It’s good to see a Brit resurrecting his culture’s sense of straight-faced, arid-dry humor.