It’s hard to believe it’s been a decade since the last release of Damon Gough, aka Badly Drawn Boy. Not since 2012’s, ‘It’s What I’m Thinking Pt 1 – Photographing Snowflakes’, have we had a full studio album from Gough, not counting 2012’s soundtrack to, ‘Being Flynn’. Now, he’s back, with newest release, ‘Banana Skin Shoes’. An introspective journey through Gough’s mind-set over the past decade, with the occasional tale of Mancunian icons.
Opening the album is titular track, ‘Banana Skin Shoes’, immediately the tone for the record is set. Driving in with a combination of electronic and funk it creates a light an up-beat tone with vocal deliveries sounding akin to a Northern Gruff Rhys. The lyrical nature takes more of a political slant, making reference to, “supersizing your soul” highlighting Gough’s frustration with the modern political sphere. Following this is, ‘Is This A Dream’, a piano driven pop number, it provides a crisp-clean sound in-order for Gough to let out his own lyrical frustrations without any inhibition.
Standout track on the album is, ‘I Just Wanna Wish You Happiness’. It’s a slower, more melancholic track which creates an introspective tone to the track. Lyrically, the tender and emotive nature of Gough’s lyrical abilities. It tackles the often difficult situation of a break-up with an air of grace and dignity that is truly palpable.
‘Tony Wilson Said’, breaks away from the emotive, provoking tones of the album, in favour of a more tongue-in-cheek attitude. Recounting the more ridiculous points of Factory Records storied history. (“Contracts signed in blood” anybody) However at the root of the track is a love for both Wilson’s impact on music and the city he hailed from, talking about both with a passion that is clear to see. The album returns to its more rock and roll sounds with, ‘I Need Someone to Trust’. A euphoric rock track, it makes brilliant use of strings in-order to lift the tone into something truly uplifting. The albums over-arching themes of growing older and accepting yourself are out in full force on the track.
The album closes with track, ‘I’ll Do My Best’. Leading in with a soulful piano tone, folk-esque guitars push their way forward to the forefront of the track. It is a truly fitting close to the album, with a tale of finding happiness in marriage and seeming contented with life. With the albums stories of political unhappiness and relationship struggles, it ends the album on a note.
Banana Skin Shoes is a truly great return by Badly Drawn Boy. It is clear to see that the time away from music has allowed Gough the grow both musically and lyrically. It is a cathartic urging of frustration, with finding joy in life’s mundanities as the light at the end of the tunnel.