Release Date: Oct 12, 2010
Record label: The End
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Badly Drawn Boy, the project of English singer-songwriter Damon Gough, deserves better than this, but here goes: Badly Drawn Boy? More like an amazing piece of art. Awful, awful puns aside, for his first album in four years, It's What I'm Thinking Pt.1 – Photographing Snowflakes, and the first in a proposed trilogy, Gough has crafted a beautiful sonic masterpiece that is equal parts raw, open emotion and simplicity and a picture-perfect example of a truly layered production. The album excels because, from the very first moment of album opener Safe Hands, Gough demonstrates his skill at creating a track that truly sticks with the listener in a way that is almost unshakable in an equally joyous and disconcerting fashion.
Still smouldering a decade after by being branded by the Mercury Music Prize’s ill fated stamp of approval, Badly Drawn Boy returns to his roots and his best for his seventh record. It’s What I’m Thinking Part One: Photographing Snowflakes could well be a poignant analogy of his career to date: beautiful creations appreciated fleetingly before dissolving into the abyss, all in the click of a shutter. Because despite an acclaimed back-catalogue, Damon Gough never achieved the success everyone in 2000 expected, with his latterday records disappearing relatively quickly from view.
Adecade after winning the Mercury with The Hour of Bewilderbeast, Damon Gough is back on his own label. In between lies a curious career path of film soundtracks, a disastrous switch from XL to EMI (which produced just one album) and eventual disillusion, all of which spills into his fifth proper album. Producer Stephen Hilton's gently sympathetic backdrop of quietly pattering drum machines and lush strings uses Gough's plaintive vocals as a texture and would probably cause seizures in major-label A&R departments, but suits the mood of hushed introspection, reflection and independence.
It’s been a decade since [b]Damon Gough[/b] won the Mercury Music Prize and nobody knows better what a blessing and a curse that can be. Guilty of knocking underdeveloped material out one minute and trying to be too clever the next, ‘[b]It’s What I’m Thinking…[/b]’ is surely the most focused and mature record of his career. Pretty songs, sporadic strings, with his voice swimming in echo, it’s a lovely autumnal feel.
Following the mixed reception of his ambitious 2006 album Born in the U.K., Badly Drawn Boy's Damon Gough retreated from the studio, returning only in 2009 when the writers of The Fattest Man in Britain asked him to write songs for the TV show's soundtrack. Being obligated to make music reignited Gough's creativity, leading him to create a proposed trilogy of albums that started with It's What I'm Thinking, Pt 1: Photographing Snowflakes. This return to the studio is also something of a return to form for Gough, who sounds more intimate and philosophical on these songs than he has since The Hour of Bewilderbeast.
"His time is now!" So screamed the headline of the December 16, 2000 edition of the NME. The words appeared atop a photo of a grinning Damon Gough, who wasn't just smiling over the Flavor Flav-style clock strapped to his neck: his universally acclaimed full-length debut, The Hour of Bewilderbeast had snagged the UK Mercury Prize for best album of the year. Upon arrival, Gough was a hyper-prolific songwriter who could pull charmingly ramshackle soft-rock lullabies out of his toque as easily as getting water from a tap, but little did we realize how literal the NME's definition of "now" would prove to be.
A decade ago, Damon Gough, aka Badly Drawn Boy, released his debut album The Hour of Bewilderbeast. It was a great record that put elements of rock, disco, symphonic pop, and classical guitar alongside simple folk music. Bewilderbeast was incredibly successful from a creative and critical standpoint, even capturing Britain’s coveted Mercury Music Prize for best album of 2000.
Damon Gough has become the epitome of new folk conformity. Mark Beaumont 2010 It’s bizarre to think, now, that Badly Drawn Boy was once considered rebellious. He was the anti-image folk provocateur who made an hour-long debut of esoteric and adventurous noise in 2000, The Hour of Bewilderbeast. A decade on, usurped by more imaginative strumbling upstarts such as Bright Eyes, Sufjan Stevens and Jamie T, he’s the epitome of new folk conformity: the Richard Curtis of the acoustic guitar and laptop.