Saturday, 17 December 2011

Badly Drawn Boy - The Hour of The Bewilderbeast

This debut album by multi-instrumentalist Damon Gough set standards for many single man projects. Much alike Sufjan Stevens, Badly Drawn Boy is a one man band with help from studio musicians and friends offering support. This was released in 2000, to great acclaim actually. It managed to win the 2000 Mercury Prize Award (The nominations were a little shitty) but to be fair to BDB, this is a solid album on first listen, but requires many, many listens to fully understand and hear everything, because this album is loaded with strings, brass, guitar, piano, vocals and just about everything else known to man. 

Without spending my entire Saturday afternoon with this one, I'm going to give you (the five readers, hi Jake) a general opinion and detailed review of the entire piece rather than every track, seeing as that's 18 in total. Ok so The album starts well with some lovely string work and eventually leads into an acoustic track with stylistic orchestral instruments. 'The Shining' is lengthy and although it's the opening track, it does give a bright, compact sound rather than some of the later tracks suck as 'Blistered Heart', which features various percussion instruments, but a dark sounding structure and no vocal work. 

The second track 'Everybody's Stalking', opens with some great guitar and works itself into a full riff before Damon enters with his strong vocals over a brilliant bass riff. The drums are most notable here as they stop, start and break the structure up well.  it leads into the typical British track 'Bewilder' which only features an organ allowing the fourth track, 'Fall In A River' to enter. This track is one of the standouts to me. It begins with a lo-fi, live like recording, but as time progresses i becomes clear this is intended and then slowly brightens up as the vocals, heavily effected enter. At only two minutes long, it's a shame because I think this has one of the best riffs on the album. 'Camping Next To Water' has the same style, with a nice riff which brightens with electric guitar. it follows the theme of being in the woods on a trip with your local scout pack. 

The production team should take the credit for the majority of this album, everything has it's raw then perfect sounding recording. 'Body Rap' is a nice little interlude for 'Once Around The Block' which has a very energetic riff and the tracks possibly the best on the album. The drum work is great and works with the wah-wah guitar riff. 'This Song' features some great studio effects which adds a shimmering sound to the whole song.

I'm not a fan of the second half, it's a little bit messy and similar for my liking. Some tracks are strong like 'Cause A Rockslide' and 'Pissing In The Wind'. But others just go over my head, 'Say It Again' and 'Epitaph'. Songs don't exactly capture my imagination, however like I said above, the strong tracks still shine, like with 'Cause A Rockslide', which has a brilliant guitar riff and Math Rock like picking, with Damon's unusual style of singing compared to his early songs.

I can only tell you to listen for yourself. It's obviously a Folk Rock based album with good song structures and a general light feel. The vocals differ and sound rather Good, with a well spoken accent to sing his lyrics. It's over an hour long so brace yourself for a tiring listen, but it's well worth it. The amount of time and effort put into this album is catastrophic. It's solid and has it's place within British music for the 00's.


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