on 18 November 2002
I liked this album as soon as I heard it: there are a couple of 'hook' tracks, such as 'You Were Right' and the title track itself, and the music established itself in my mind straightaway. But I wasn't sure if it was anything more than a week-long album until I had heard it through a few times. It really is one of those records that makes you think about it when you aren't listening to it. I remember saying to a friend "I really want to listen to that new Badly Drawn Boy"... after I'd had it a few days.
Like most rewarding music, "Have you Fed.." is ridden with influences, but not overtly so. I heard echoes of, amongst many others, Bob Marley, Beatles circa White Album, Beach Boys, even Stevie Wonder... Perhaps Gough's closest North American analogue is Beck, and this album certainly matches "Mutations" for musical adventurousness and emotional depth. In fact, as he sings "It's hard, it's hard, it's hard" on '40 days 40 fights' it sounds JUST like Beck.
It's not like Gough is ripping these guys off though; instead he is using eclectic sounds to produce something entirely new that has a sound entirely of its own. I can hear Ween in here too... maybe in the surreal lyrics: "I've wrestled the Octopus/ I came out with extra arms". Gough has credited Ween as an influence in the past.. and that's definitely a good thing.
In short: vry gd!
on 29 December 2002
I got this album as a xmas gift and expected it to be decent but nothing special. I was wrong, BDB was right; this is quality. From start to finish the voice is stunningly warm and intimate, distinctive and emotive. BDB's lyrics are excellent on certain songs such as 'All Possibilities' and 'How' and in parts I feel his lyrics are approaching a style typical of Morrissey; witty but incisive. Buy it if you want to relax with a close friend but your friends are away!
on 4 February 2006
I hate to give 5 stars to albums because 5 stars should be given to great albums like 'Dark Side Of The Moon'. I'm not going to tell you this is 'Dark Side Of The Moon' but in all honesty I couldn't in my heart of hearts give this 4 stars.
Damon Gough and his alter-ego BDB is part of an essential trinity of British indie/rock/alternative music. Yes, they all hale from Manchester and I'm biased but who would doubt the quality of BDB, Doves and Elbow.
On this showing Mr Gough with the help of Beck's producer Tim Rothrock (Yes the same Beck and Rothrock that concieved the brilliant Odelay)has managed to tame the wild imagination and progressive ideas of first album 'The Hour of The Bewilderbeast' to give us a truly great album. This is an album that in my mind will always go down as an unsung classic, much like Doves' 'Some Cities' or Elbow's 'Cast Of Thousands'. Though many may never own this album I'm willing to bet if they buy any of these three albums in retrospect they may already own albums that are heavily influenced by these three masterpieces.
Many artists have made the LA album, few have managed the heights of 'Hotel California'. BDB never tried to match some of these albums he just wrote an album with massive strings, and wonderfully melodic tunes with great unprentetious lyrics gently placed on top.
Singles 'All Possiblities' and 'You Were Right' are in a set of songs that starts with the former and ends in possibly one of the finest songs I've heard since 'Bittersweet Symphony', namely 'How?'. But aside from the magnitude and ambition of this album in it's mid-section, those who found the first album unfulfilling due to Gough's raw talent, in songs like 'Born Again', '40 Days, 40 Fights' and 'What Is It Now?' you might find BDB is a more pallatable proposition.
I haven't raved as much as I wanted about this album but for it's current price this is like buying a Turner from a Boot Sale
on 15 May 2003
Have You Fed The Fish? is like a story. It starts with an aeroplane landing, and ends with 'Bedside Story.' To achieve this, Badly Drawn Boy has created an album with flows from one track to the next with consummate ease. The lyrical input by Damon Gough is genius, particularly on You Were Right. He namechecks Sinatra, Lennon, Buckley and Cobain, as well as Madonna. Clearly an aspirer, Gough also produces some of the most inspiring lines for years, "Songs- are never quite the answer, just a soundtrack to a life." Stunning. There are some grea songs on this album - such as singles Born again and All Possibilities. Also, Forty Days Forty Fights is superb. The joyous Ticket to what you need is the highlight of the album, sounding like a circus coming into town. BDB must now be recognised as one of this decades most important songwriters.
on 1 December 2002
If you are lover of boy bands ignore this review, this album is about talent and quality and music.
I am blown away with how someone with such a demure and shy public persona manages to produce such a powerful and touching album that at the same time has the ability to make we want to dance around the living room on such tracks as 'Born Again'.
This is an album that puts BDB right up there with the top three music generators out of the UK at the moment and suggests he is definitely here to stay as a meaningful contributor to the quality UK music scene. Brilliant arrangement where it is needed and raw energy minimalism when the beauty of words are the point.
Buy this album, it means something.
on 5 November 2002
Mmmmm...What's that smell? It's the odour of musical fresh air blowing through the stink of manufactured bands who never sing live, karaoke kings and queens who have got the singles charts already stitched up, and whiney little boys pretending to be the best thing in music since Presley. Yes, Badly Drawn Boy (aka Damon Gough), the Mercury Award winner with the tea cosy hat and more talent in his beard than Gareth Gates could ever hope to possess in a million years, is back with a new album.
'Have you fed the fish' is, in many ways, closer to the 'About a Boy' than his debut, but as that was a great album, that's nothing to worry about. Once again, each song is a departure from the previous one, with BDB taking on the vocals, guitars, piano, flute, kitchen sink - whatever comes to hand, basically. The world of popular music has been crying out for a new Bowie or a new Bolan, somebody who is a unique, one-off talent, and BDB is that somebody. Having produced two albums in a year, the possibility of new BDB albums coming at regular intervals is something to relish.
It's a sobering thought that if Damon Gough had auditioned for Pop Idol, Pete Waterman and crew would have rejected him without a second glance, thus consigning one of Britains most original talents to the dustbin. Just goes to show what they know.
on 28 August 2003
It is a true shame that this album has not enjoyed more success. The entire album flows in a fashion that allows the listener to enjoy the occasional track or indeed follow from first piece to last in an almost linear story. Tracks like 'born again' work on many different levels, giving the listener the option to either listen to catchy tune, or take the time to revel in the obviously large amount of work that has gone into crafting this contempary masterpiece.
BDB as normal doesn't take himself too seriously, which you seldom find in todays charts. This inturn creates an easy listening environment, which somehow musters an air of familiarity with the album.
A number of the tracks are intrisicly linked with discreet (and some not so discreet) references to each other. With little touches like this, it generates a real feeling that the artist cares about the music that they have presented to us, and it isn't just 'off the shelf' produce designed to make money.
The albulm does require of number of outings before you can enjoy it for all it's worth. So, if you don't take to it immediately then certainly don't be affraid to give it another try.
A big thumbs up.
on 4 November 2002
BDB has done it once again. Superb. Damon Gough is pushing along in a direction a little way off that of anyone else at the moment. The musical and lyrical links between the songs, together with the orchestral arrangements, stitch them together to make them more like movements from a classical piece. Add to this the basis of excellently crafted songs and it simply comes together to make one of, if not THE, album of the year. Quite a statement for half a days play, but I'm sure I'll stand by it come the end of December.
The only, very minor, annoyance with the album is on the title track, track 2, where the production of the vocal over the first couple of lines isn't crisp. Having said that, I'll probably come to like it after a few more listens. Damon Gough seems to know what he's doing everywhere else on the album !
If you're not sure...widen your horizons, you will like it. Alot.
If you liked About A Boy OST & Hour Of Bewilderbeast then...well, things haven't changed in BDBland. A slightly bigger sound, perhaps. A slightly less diverse set of songs, maybe. But the overall impression is of a confident songwriter and performer playing songs that make you laugh and cry.
I can say from experience that this is a good album to decorate rooms to.
After his brilliant debut, "Hour of Bewilderbeast," Badly Drawn Boy (real name: Damon Gough) had a lot to live up to in his second (non-soundtrack) album. And he comes close to delivering in "Have You Fed the Fish?", a sparkling folky-pop album that displays his musical depth and complexity.
It opens with an announcer (like on a plane) informing us that outside the window is a cloud that looks just like Badly Drawn Boy. It's a pretentious moment that isn't too annoying -- especially when it dissolves into sparkling, layered pop. Gough relies on piano pop in songs like "40 Days 40 Fights," and the passionate ballad "How." It's his best area; he can really wring feeling from those keys.
But he also dips into the more acoustic sound, with the danceable "Born Again" and the low-key "I Was Wrong." And "Tickets To What You Need" is more acoustic than any other song -- stripped down, with Gough's vocals in the forefront, he sounds like he's standing on a table and joyously singing to the crowds. After a few more chillingly panoramic pop melodies and piano-led laments, he bows out in the soaring fuzz-guitar "Bedside Story."
It's all too easy to alienate someone you love, perhaps forever. Gough seems to be speaking through his songs to someone else, saying "I Was Wrong," "You Were Right" (two songs from the middle of this album). He retains the experimental edge, giving extra layers and sonic flourishes to what could have been an ordinary indie-folk-pop album.
If there's any flaw in "Have You Fed The Fish?", it's that it seems sometimes that Gough is trying a little too hard. Relax, mate. His acoustic guitar and exquisite piano playing are the middle of the album's sound, but he backs it up with horns, strings, sometimes thunderous percussion, and cymbals. Not to mention the smooth synthy sweeps in songs like "Centre Peace."
Gough's mellow voice is a bit like an instrument in itself -- he seems kind of timid about being in the forefront musically. He only breaks out in "Tickets To What You Need," sounding playful and charming. There are some lyrical stumbles ("And woman, I'll make you a girl"?), but most of the time he manages to wrap strangely sensitive words around the songs. "And you/were right to bide your time and not buy into my misery/Well the good things are never free..."
Gough doesn't reach the heights of his debut album, but taken alone "Have You Fed The Fish" is a beautiful little pop classic overshadowed by the bigger classic, "Bewilderbeast."