Album Review by Mark Bayross
When I reviewed ANOTHER PEARL a month or so ago, I said that I hoped Damon Gough’s forthcoming (and long awaited) debut album THE HOUR OF BEWILDERBEAST erred more towards the stirring strings and eccentric electronica of the single’s B-side. Well, it doesn’t really, but nonetheless, it still manages to sound pretty good.
Delicate guitars strummed over strings and piano make for an intoxicating brew (ask the billions who bought and keep buying MOBY’s ‘Play’ album) and THE HOUR OF BEWILDERBEAST has them in spades.
Take STONE ON THE WATER, with its brooding minor chords, or listen to the opening cello and French horn of THE SHINING: this album is nothing if not ambitious. By way of contrast, the jazzy drums and wah-wahed guitars of last year’s single OPNCE AROUND THE BLOCK (a bit of an indie hit) lift the mood somewhat.
For a lo-fi master like Gough, the production (also courtesy of Twisted Nerve Records co-founder Andy Votel) is excellent. Deliberately opaque in places (THIS SONG literally shimmers throughout), it still manages to sound full and heartwarming.
The 18 tracks (the same as PLAY bizarrely) end with the simple ballad EPITAPH, itself fading out to the sound of birdsong. With echoes of Mercury Rev, Daniel Johnston and, in places, Simon and Garfunkel, Badly Drawn Boy has produced a debut album worthy of all expectations.