August 30, 2004 12:00 PM

One Plus One Is One

The perfect soundtrack warm but not too sentimental—for the 2002 film About a Boy came from the prodigiously talented Damon Gough, a shameless romantic who calls himself Badly Drawn Boy. As usual, he writes and sings all of the songs on his fourth album, and he plays his heart out on 10 instruments. That’s several too many; Gough can seemingly generate half a dozen pretty melodies while he’s brushing his teeth, but he’s a restless spirit unable to resist tossing in some tubular bells or a glockenspiel. The heavy flutes on “Summertime in Wintertime,” for instance, serve only to remind us that Jethro Tull remains unchallenged in the subspecialty of flute rock, and “Holy Grail” and “Year of the Rat” veer across the border from sincere to sticky when the children’s choruses kick in. Kids might be the ideal audience for this disc; soulful, melancholy teens, anyway, who will connect with both Gough’s innocent bromides (he’s pro-peace, in favor of dreams, strongly committed to taking it easy) and his fuzzy sense of persecution (“Get out of this hole/Before it takes your soul”). For grownups, though, Gough might do well to ease up on the emotion pedal.

DOWNLOAD THIS: “This Is That New Song”

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