Review: Badly Drawn Boy

Badly Drawn Boy
“About A Boy- Original Motion Picture Soundtrack”
(XL Recordings / ARTISTdirect Records)

I have to admit to being a little skeptical about this album.  The fact that it’s the soundtrack to the new Hugh Grant movie does not exactly inspire confidence.  “About A Boy” is pleasantly surprising, though; it avoids the schmaltz you might expect, and it feels more like an actual album than most soundtracks do, since it’s entirely the work of England’s Damon Gough, a.k.a. Badly Drawn Boy.  Gough alternates between strictly instrumental tunes and more traditional vocal pop numbers, each one simultaneously mellow and catchy.  The strongest track from “About A Boy” is “Walking Out of Stride,” a droopy note to a departed lover on which Gough sounds uncannily like Paul McCartney without abandoning his own voice.  “About A Boy” is pretty good stuff that provokes more interest in Badly Drawn Boy than in the movie to which it’s attached.