Badly Drawn Boy

Born In The U.K. | Astralwerks
By CHRIS PARKER  |  November 13, 2006
2.5 2.5 Stars
It’s a tug-of-war for Damon Gough between the intimate and the epic. Whereas Badly Drawn Boy’s albums favor tender, baroque folk pop, like a gold-plated Nick Drake, Gough has always experimented with how much to gild the lily. At times the elegant instrumentation of Born in the U.K. smothers a good song’s immediacy (“Degrees of Separation,” “Promises”) or feels precious, like late-era E.L.O. (“Welcome to the Overground”). The album’s first half harks back to the grand, piano-driven pop of 2002’s Have You Fed the Fish?; the country-tinged “The Way Things Used To Be” and the pretty ballad “Nothing’s Going To Change Your Mind” highlight a second half with more of the warmth that made 2004’s One Plus One Is One so enjoyable. The terrific title track is an energetic paean to Gough’s upbringing and cultural legacy. It’s a shame he doesn’t indulge more of his rock impulses, because his ornate mid-tempo predilections tend to water down his natural charisma.
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