Music » CD Reviews

Badly Drawn Boy

Have You Fed the Fish? (ArtistDirect)

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"If you look out the side of the plane," says a muffled airplane-pilot voice at the onset of Damon Gough's third album under his cringe-inducing stage name, "you'll see a cloud that looks exactly like Badly Drawn Boy." And if you keep listening to Have You Fed the Fish?, you'll hear a record that sounds exactly like '70s Elton John. Well, it's not a direct copy, but there are some pretty obvious similarities. There's that airy-fairy orchestration, for one thing.

For another, there's a similar dippiness to their lyrics: "How can I take up the air that you breathe/When all I possess is a melody?" Gough asks in "How," which actually makes more sense than the lyrics of "Have You Fed the Fish?" Moreover, both Gough and John come on like English eccentrics at first, though neither is really all that odd; in fact, they're quite traditional in rather predictable ways, most notably their old-fashioned sense that the tune's the thing, first, foremost, and always. Not to mention the fact that, as this rather lightweight album demonstrates, not even tunes are always enough.

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