'Banana Skin Shoes' Puts an Upbeat Spin on Badly Drawn Boy's Classic Sound

'Banana Skin Shoes' Puts an Upbeat Spin on Badly Drawn Boy's Classic Sound
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Badly Drawn Boy — the moniker of England's oddball songsmith Damon Gough — is celebrating his 50th year in a special way: releasing Banana Skin Shoes, his first studio album since 2010's sombre, Smiths-tinged It's What I'm Thinking Pt.1 — Photographing Snowflakes. The tones couldn't be more different.

Still containing the lush sound Gough has been known for since 2000's near-perfect The Hour of the Bewilderbeast, there's an uplifting feel permeating every beat of Banana Skin Shoes. You don't get lost so much as dance between the layers of synths, beats and strings.

Even the more sombre moments — "You and Me Against the World" or "Note to Self" — make it impossible not to two-step as Gough opens his heart over a rhythm-forward soundscape. Album standout "I Just Wanna Wish You Happiness" peaks in this category, punching the gut of any listener who has ever tumbled out of love (it also sounds like a lost Beck track).

The album is at its best when the beanie-wearing bard really leans into the celebratory vibes, though. "Tony Wilson Said" could be the catchiest obituary ever penned, while you'll feel yourself leaving the ground during "This a Dream?" This good mood carries through all 14 songs, sticking a smile on your face for even longer.

Banana Skin Shoes is classic Badly Drawn Boy: Eclectic songs held together by heartfelt lyrics and rich instrumentation. The only thing that's changed is Gough has proved he can dance. (AWAL)