When you see pictures of Badly Drawn Boy in his wool hat and beatnik demeanor, you’d figure this dude was a lo-fi folk rebel. Think again. After two accomplished albums that bordered on 70’s groove and orchestral imagery, it felt like Badly Drawn Boy, aka Damon Gough, had more in common with Marvin Gaye and Burt Bacharach than Dylan.
Following up the superb effort of 2002’s Have You Fed The Fish, was a tough enough chore, and One Plus One Is One fails to find its niche. From the prologue sound effects to a dreamy, yet hokey arrangement of 16 songs that could roll into the soundtrack for a drama film, not unlike his soundtrack to About A Boy, Gough makes a bold yet flat statement on his third full length. Although each of the songs on One Plus One is rich in texture, the songs meander solemnly with nursery rhyme silliness. There’s hardly a compelling moment here at all, with any words that touch home. Gone is the catch me if you can, bewilderment of the man with the pseudonym and the sonic experiments of albums past. Instead Gough focuses on mixing his persona with seizing a gold record. Songs like “Summertime in Wintertime” with its clever words, use a Jethro Tull inspired bouncy flute lead that after one listen fails to poke a sense of urgency.
Beneath the wool hat, great talent lies within Badly Drawn Boy, but disappointingly One Plus One equals nothing.