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Born in the U.K.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
Damon Gough is a cheeky fella. The onetime king of lo-fi isolationist pop has decided to change his approach drastically and start thinking big -- as big, as evidenced by the title of this expansive disc, as Bruce Springsteen himself. Born in the U.K. isn't a carbon copy of the Boss's epic -- the proudly British Gough doesn't have much to say about motorcycles, highways, or gum-snapping teenagers -- but it does go a long way toward transposing that disc's spirit. Gough signals his intent early on through the spectacular orchestrations of "Welcome to the Overground," which cartwheels along like something out of the original cast of Hair. Not everything on Born in the ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
Damon Gough is a cheeky fella. The onetime king of lo-fi isolationist pop has decided to change his approach drastically and start thinking big -- as big, as evidenced by the title of this expansive disc, as Bruce Springsteen himself. Born in the U.K. isn't a carbon copy of the Boss's epic -- the proudly British Gough doesn't have much to say about motorcycles, highways, or gum-snapping teenagers -- but it does go a long way toward transposing that disc's spirit. Gough signals his intent early on through the spectacular orchestrations of "Welcome to the Overground," which cartwheels along like something out of the original cast of Hair. Not everything on Born in the U.K. follows suit, but there's a striking attention to detail, in terms of arrangements -- ranging from the simple trumpet line that wafts through "Long Way Round" to the wispy layers of keyboard that envelop "Nothing's Gonna Change Your Mind." Gough's skills as a social commentator are in full effect here, as borne out by the wistful title track, which distills the pop culture of the years around punk's initial explosion into two-and-a-half minutes, in which he decides Queen Elizabeth will ultimately be remembered far more fondly than the boys responsible for "God Save the Queen." And in case anyone misses the connection between Born in the U.K. and its Stateside model, Gough wraps up the disc by informing his fellow travelers, "If we still don't have a plan, we'll listen to Thunder Road." It doesn't get much cheekier than that.
All Music Guide - Heather Phares
After a bout with writer's block left most of what would have been the fifth Badly Drawn Boy album on the scrap heap, Damon Gough regrouped by writing a set of songs inspired by growing up in the United Kingdom. The results are Born in the U.K., an album that, of course, nods to Bruce Springsteen's rousing-yet-searching Born in the U.S.A. (the Boss is also thanked in the liner notes), but also feels like it's trying to win -- and impress -- as big an audience as possible. At times, Born in the U.K. is impressive, but not necessarily with its most ambitious moments. After the relatively restrained One Plus One Is One, Gough returns to the elaborate, heavily arranged sound of Have You Fed the Fish? for most of the album, and too often, his words and melodies end up drowning in their busy surroundings. "Nothing's Gonna Change Your Mind" is a particularly unfortunate casualty, a song with good bones that's done in by strings that are somehow massive and fussy at the same time. Meanwhile, "Welcome to the Overground," with its huge choir and equally giant guitars and pianos, sounds like it was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber instead of Badly Drawn Boy. To be fair, Gough does harness the album's widescreen sound effectively at times: "Degrees of Separation" is the closest Born in the U.K. comes to clearly elaborating on its concept, setting memories of the Thatcher era to rock that nods to "God Save the Queen," both the national anthem and the punk anthem. "Journey from A to B" is another standout that makes the most of its Springsteen and Phil Spector homages. As the album unfolds, Gough seems to get his footing; it's as though he spends the first half of the album trying to wow his audience but only proves impressive once he gets rid of the pretense. Enough of Born in the U.K.'s second half works well that it makes the album's early missteps even more mystifying: "Walk You Home Tonight"'s hints of blue-eyed soul and Motown nail the sophisticated but accessible sound that Gough strains for in other places, as do "The Way Things Used to Be"'s slight country twang and "Long Way Round (Swimming Pool)"'s Burt Bacharach-style pop. Still, it's more than a little odd that Gough keeps trying this grandiose direction, when the smaller, more idiosyncratic, far more personal sound of The Hour of Bewilderbeast and About a Boy won him fans in the first place. Even though Gough intended Born in the U.K. for a wider audience, it's likely that only the most devoted Badly Drawn Boy fans will enjoy -- or have the patience for -- the attempts at epics here. His voice and songwriting are so engaging that they don't need to be propped up by impressive-seeming arrangements. As with Have You Fed the Fish? and One Plus One Is One, Born in the U.K. is at its best when Gough shares something personal, instead of writing for an audience of "everybody" that doesn't actually exist.
San Francisco Chronicle - Jaan Uhelszki
The epic scope of the material and the big anthemic choruses make you feel that anything is possible if you arm-wrestle your demons instead of cowering before them. A brave, elegiac work.

The epic scope of the material and the big anthemic choruses make you feel that anything is possible if you arm-wrestle your demons instead of cowering before them. A brave, elegiac work.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/24/2006
  • Label: Imports
  • UPC: 094637404317
  • Catalog Number: 988961

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Badly Drawn Boy Primary Artist
Bob Marsh Flugelhorn
Andy Caine Vocals
Alex Thomas Percussion, Drums
Damon Gough Vocals, Various
Nick Franglen Synthesizer, Keyboards, Stylophone, Ambience
Terri Walker Vocals
Norman McLeod Slide Guitar
Sean McCann Bass, Bass Guitar
Technical Credits
Cameron Jenkins Engineer
Tim Parry Management
Damon Gough Instrumentation
Nick Franglen Producer, drum programming, Audio Production
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