Album: The Hour of Bewilderbeast
Artist: Badly Drawn Boy
Reason Featured: #18 on The Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop Poll for 2000, #18 Album for Pitchfork’s Top Twenty Albums of 2000, #4 Album for NME’s Top Fifty Albums of 2000, Winner of the Mercury Prize for 2000
My Favorite Songs: The Shining, Everybody’s Stalking, Bewilderbeast 2, Pissing in the Wind, Disillusion, Say It Again
Their Grades: NME (7/10), Pitchfork (8.6/10), Robert Christgau (A-)
My Grade: 86%
The Hour of Bewilderbeast is an hour well-spent. It’s fitting this record arrived in 2000 given how well it typifies a kind of music I’ll always associate with the new millennium’s first decade. Damon Gough’s debut fits right into the same comforting crannies of folksy alternapop where you’ll find Elliott Smith’s oeuvre, Coldplay’s Parachutes and Beck circa Sea Change.
Damon Gough (alias: Badly Drawn Boy) may include some ill-advised sound experiments within his otherwise clear-eyed songcraft but that’s about the worst thing you could say. I fell under most of the spells Gough casts here: the lilting strings haunting the background of album opener “The Shining,” the bendy riff anchoring “Everybody’s Stalking,” the sentimental-montage-in-an-indie-movie-trailer guitar + banjo swirl in “Cause A Rockslide,” the get-you-gyrating, 70s AM groove on “Disillusion.”
I guess it makes sense I’d get cozy with an album indicative of the first full decade I ever lived through. This isn’t the folk revival as it would come to be after 2005. In other words, these songs wouldn’t fit in that well on a Twilight soundtrack but Zach Braff really missed the boat by not soliciting any to back up some scene in Garden State. Speaking of cinema, my only knowledge of Badly Drawn Boy until today was that they (yes, they, because I didn’t know the name is to Damon Gough what Bon Iver is to Justin Vernon, I admit it) scored the About A Boy soundtrack and, after listening, I couldn’t help but think “Of course.” Gough’s got that Nick Hornby sense of what it means to be a man with a penchant for crying with Nick Drake warbling in his headphones. Hey, I can relate.