Badly Drawn Boy It's What I'm Thinking
Damon Gough, a.k.a. Badly Drawn Boy, the Mercury Prize-winning embodiment of the word “scruff,” toured in support of the About A Boy soundtrack by sometimes holding a laptop up to the microphone and singing along to his own tracks. It was simultaneously charming and off-putting, but his output since then has been almost entirely confined to the latter, with none of the off-the-cuff brilliance of his debut, The Hour Of Bewilderbeast. His seventh studio album, the hopefully titled It’s What I’m Thinking Part One: Photographing Snowflakes, is the first in a proposed trilogy designed to wring maximum songwriting out of an unexpected burst of creative energy that finds Gough hitching the best, understated elements of 2004’s One Plus One Is One to Stephen Hilton’s gauzy production, and leaving the more bombastic tendencies of 2006’s Born in the U.K. in the dust. The lead-off track, “In Safe Hands,” is a perfect indicator of what's to come, with echo-laden vocals gently pushed to the fore via politely clattering production, while a chilly, swirling vortex of ambient noise yawns underneath. Nothing diverges too far from that model here, and even though two more albums of the same might tax the bedroom-pop-processing part of the brain, this is clearly Gough’s most accomplished work in years.