Born Damon Gough, Badly Drawn Boy emerged on the British music scene in the late ’90s with a series of popular EPs. His debut full-length, The Hour of Bewilderbeast, was released in 2000 to much critical acclaim and was followed by the score for About A Boy in 2002. After two disappointing follow-ups, Badly Drawn Boy looks to return to the spotlight with Born in the U.K. Unfortunately, that’s not very likely.
Despite being recorded with the intention of producing something distinctly British, Born in the U.K. doesn’t sound particularly distinctive at all. The problem with the album lies mainly in its musical complexity: it’s too busy. Badly Drawn Boy’s earlier albums, especially the score for About A Boy, were beautiful in their simplicity. Lyrics were clever and concise, songs composed with restraint. None of that restraint is present on Born in the U.K. Perhaps Gough was aiming for a more orchestral sound, but the effort falls short of the mark and just sounds cluttered.
The album is not without merits though. The songs that remind a listener of the earlier albums, “Journey from A to B” and “Nothing’s Going to Change Your Mind,” provide a tease of what this album could’ve accomplished with a more cohesive framework.