I have to say I’m fairly impressed by Damon Gough’s new album. His early stuff was great, peaking for me with 2002’s About A Boy soundtrack, but then his (sometimes) dull approach to songwriting and his (always) self-reflective sixth-form lyrics started to get tiresome.
It’s nice to hear a fair bit of funk on this record, harking back to the Madchester groove of the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays, particularly on the first two tracks – the title-song opener, and sure-fire single Is This A Dream?
The corny sixth-form poetry lyrics are still there, but it’s easier to forgive him for this when more thought has gone into the music. The arrangements on his Mercury award winning debut were stark in comparison, exposing the weakness of the lyrics. This one feels like more of a band effort. And it’s all the better for it.
I’m not sure what happened between About A Boy and this album. He disappeared off my radar, after a silly song I heard about remembering where he was when John Lennon died (more of that teenage poetry). The other unforgivable thing was releasing an album called Born In The UK; attracting unwelcome comparisons to Springsteen, when it was probably intended as a joke.
The album took a long, long time to get to me, ordered from the UK during the coronavirus lockdown and eventually arriving 12 weeks later. It’s a nice pressing on double yellow vinyl, stunning artwork on a beautiful gatefold and a huge poster with the lyrics on the reverse. I ordered a signed copy on standard black vinyl, but was grateful to receive an email from the label midway through lockdown: ‘We’re really sorry but Damon’s signed the yellow vinyl version of the album; hope that’s okay.” When I received it I was initially a little disappointed he hadn’t signed the front, instead opting to scrawl on his inner-gatefold portrait. On second thought, the signature works better there as it would have otherwise drawn attention away from that sublime cover artwork.
Gough’s two-dimensional lyrics do work for me on one particular song on the new record. Tony Wilson Said is a postcard to the late Manchester music mogul, name-checking various places in and around the city. It really made me feel a little homesick, although this might be due to me leaving Manchester twelve years ago. Would the lyrics sound a little crass if I still lived there?
Hit: Is This A Dream?
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