“Have you fed the fish?” inquires the title of Badly Drawn Boy’s new release, seemingly reminding the potential purchaser of better things to do than bothering with Badly Drawn Boy’s latest.
Following The Hour of Bewilderbeast and the “About a Boy” soundtrack, Badly Drawn Boy (a.k.a. Damon Gough) attempts to regain past success by constructing songs on the heartfelt indie-popster assembly line. (If the recent spate of sappy imports is any indication, this line exists somewhere in Britain.)
The album’s flaws are conveniently represented in its title track. Gough sings, “The key to your heart opens the door to the world,” and, “Sometimes you’ve got to rewind to go forward,” desperately attempting poetic earnestness but coming off more like quips from TV’s Dr. Phil set to music. Ultimately, the piano-driven ditty winds down like the starving goldfish you let die because you bothered to buy this album in the first place.
Too often, intros promising a diversion into daring sonic experimentation collapse into the stickiest kind of treacle. Excepted are two tracks that hearken back to a better time. “All Possibilities” reminds us that string sections are fondly missed in today’s pop. And the funky “Using Our Feet” has sassy backup singers the listener half-expects to chirp “Shaft!” at any minute.
Buy Have You Fed the Fish? if you don’t mind an artist who vacillates between quietly bouncy with an edge of irony and uncreative with an edge of suck. Or if you just plain hate your fish.
[Drew Mackie loves his fish.]