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The Hour of Bewilderbeast

Badly Drawn Boy

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Album Review

What has the field of lo-fi slacker pop come to when faced by an LP as ambitious and entertaining as Badly Drawn Boy's The Hour of Bewilderbeast? Despite all attempts to sabotage his songwriting and production with innumerable experimental tidbits, songs within a song, and (seemingly) tossed-off arrangements, Damon Gough has to face the fact that he wrote and produced over a dozen excellent songs of baroque folk-pop for his album debut, and the many gems can't help but shine through all the self-indulgence. The sprightly orchestration for cello and trumpet (Gough's own) that begin the album are eventually taken over by the sparse guitar pickings and wistful folky sunshine of "The Shining," which veers into the skewed slide guitar and ominous tone of "Everybody's Stalking." Gough rarely pauses for breath (even when he's doing a ballad) or follows any traditional sense of album flow, but after a listen or two, The Hour of Bewilderbeast is revealed as a shambling masterpiece of a pop album. Most of these songs are Gough's entirely (he plays as many as eight instruments), with occasional help from friends like Twisted Nerve co-labelhead Andy Votel and assorted drummers for accompaniment. His songwriting is great, but Gough's twisted sense of humor helps the album shine as well, as on "Fall in a River," where the down-a-lazy-river feel carries through to the point where not just Gough but the entire production is submerged with a splash and attendant warping of the sound. The Hour of Bewilderbeast surely isn't a traditional pop album, but a continually beguiling trip through lo-fi postmodern folk that draws as much from Harry Nilsson as Beck.

Customer Reviews

Education of Music in One Album

Damon Gough finest work to date despite the release of two (non-movie soundtrack) albums since (Permission to Land and One Plus One is One). This albums should be a viewed as an education, a music experience and less a collection of tracks as many albums are. I would recommend highly downloading the whole album, track picking would be fruitless and to be honest missing the point. The album won a Mercury Music Prize and listening to Gough's talent and appreciation of varied music styles you can understand why this music prize is among the select few to pay attention to. Gough occupies a prized place in the music industry in which he may only be accompanied by Damon Albarn (both for Gorillaz and cotemporary Blur). The album moves from chilling, almost haunting, tracks like The Shining (no pun intended!) to upbeat tunes like Once Around The Block (probably the most recognisable song on the whole album) to bizzare like Body Rap. This is an acquired taste and at first I was unsure but has developed in to a much underappreciated classic.

Cometh the Hour

Quite simply one of the finest albums in British music history. From the first haunting note of the cello on The Shining this album drops melodies like they're about to be outlawed. The simplicity of the lyrics, with love and relationships high on the agenda, make the songs all the more endearing. A timeless classic that in 40 years people will talk about in the same vein as Pet Sounds and Revolver.

One You'll Come Back To Again and Again.

I first heard this at uni several years back: it did take a few listens to get used to it, but it was so worth the time. Haven't heard it for a while, but came back to it recently and still love it! This one's a proper grower, catching you by surprise. The man's a musical wizard, and this is definitely one to have in your collection.

Biography

Born: 02 October 1969 in Bolton, Lancashire, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Belying his status as a narcoleptic slacker icon, Badly Drawn Boy proved himself a tireless pop songwriter, with arrangements that reflect a great deal of creativity. Born Damon Gough, he began recording after meeting the like-minded Andy Votel at a Manchester nightclub. The pair formed the Twisted Nerve label, and Gough debuted as Badly Drawn Boy with an EP and several singles. The recordings dovetailed nicely with the experimentalist pop fringe of artists like Scott 4 and the Beta...
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