Banana Skin Shoes is the ninth album and first studio release in over a decade from Damon Gough also known as Badly Drawn Boy.
Since his debut album The Hour of Bewilderbeast won the Mercury Prize in 2000, he has gone on to release multiple albums but none have ever truly reached such level of success.
Always one to wear his heart on his sleeve, this album is a truly personal and fervent collection of tracks filled with colourful and honest pop music. This album bears the writing of a songwriter skipping between musical idioms and emotional extremes with a cool, calm level of assurance.
The opening title track is a false start – a disordered burst of horns so intense, you’d be forgiven for wanting to skip the track initially. “Press play, not stop,” Gough starts lyrically and this is great advice. The amalgamation of instruments are confusing at times but the bass line rescues it.
‘I Just Wanna Wish You Happiness’ is a poignant farewell to his ex. “I just wanna’ wish you happiness, for the time that I was with you, and the rest,” Gough sings. A beautiful surrender to the emotions of saying goodbye to someone you have loved. The arrangements in this song are far more akin to what Gough has written previously.
‘Is This A Dream’, ‘Note To Self’ and ‘I’ll Do My Best’ are all equally stand out tracks from Banana Skin Shoes which boast Gough’s experience as a songwriter.
‘Tony Wilson Said’ will make every Mancunian of a certain vintage, wistful for a bygone era. References to Manchester neighbourhoods, iconic landmarks such as The Haçienda and “contracts signed in blood,” are all a nod, not only to the infamous label owner, but to the part of the world where the journey of Badly Drawn Boy began.
Banana Skin Shoes sees Badly Drawn Boy pushing his boundaries musically and lyrically, while still retaining his classic trademark as a one-man northern powerhouse of songwriting.