Badly Drawn Boy - About A Boy OST

Depending on your outlook "About A Boy" sums ups everything you love or hate about Damon Gough and puts an end finally to those dodgy comparisons to the English version Beck. About A Boy is the soundtrack to the film of Nick Hornby's third novel (following last years High Fidelity film) and features Mr Wooden top himself Hugh Grant in the lead role. Its about as far removed from Manchester's Northern Quarter as you can imagine and it makes perfect sense that the album was actually recorded with Tom Rothrock in the sunshine state LA.

In many respects "About A Boy" is a much more rounded and complete album than his critically acclaimed debut "The Hour Of Bewilderbeast" and really allows Damon to take another approach to song writing. "Silent Sigh" is perhaps the clearest indication of where the second album proper is heading with the emphasis on concise three minute pop songs rather than what were basically bedroom demos for much of the debut. "Something To Talk About" likewise demonstrates a very simple, yet effective tool of placing phrases or lyrics in the listeners head which takes them on a very unique journey of self discovery/

While much of the album revolves around that famed english working class folk hero image that Damon is famous for, its clear that he hasn't that experimental edge that attracted people in the first place. "S.P.A.T" based around an electro breakbeat with James Brown styled horn arrangements and Beastie Boys flute its more fitting for a Blaxpoitation movie. "Delta (Little Boy Blues" equally could be out of the latest Quentin Tarrantino movie had he relocated to Chorlton. One can only begin to guess at why the Christmas song "Donna & Blitzon" is included as the final track, but being the best Christmas track since the old Phil Spencer vinyl we'll ignore it.

Its perverse that what should have been little more than a side-track or distraction has actually produced an album of such merit, that it simply blows his debut album out of the water. No longer is Badly Drawn Boy a little curiosity for the folk of Manchester or the indie underground, he's a fully paid up member of the Hollywood Bratpack. While I can't vouch for the quality of the movie (i'll be staying away for one reason and one reason only : Hugh Grant), the soundtrack album is one essential purchase.

Alex McCann

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