We all have those old friends who we don’t see or sometimes speak to for a number of years, yet you know the minute you meet up again it will be like no time has passed at all. Conversations will resume wherever they left off the last time you were in contact. That is the feeling that I have had this weekend listening to the new album Banana Skin Shoes by Badly Drawn Boy, it is like being reunited with an old friend and it seems like only yesterday Damon Gough was last in our lives. The reality is a decade has passed since his last studio album (eight years if you include the soundtrack to Being Flynn) and what’s even more frightening is twenty years have passed since we first become friends with the release of The Hour of Bewilderbeast in 2000. So much has changed in the world during that time but there is so much comfort knowing that Badly Drawn Boy is back with one of his strongest pieces of work to date, and that comforting feel of re-uniting yourself with an old friend.
Banana Skin Shoes is an album that is full of heartbreak, loss, hope, new love, friendships, fresh starts and a longing for better days ahead. I fail to believe that there is any human being on this planet at the moment who would not have their lives enriched by this album. ‘I Just Wanna Wish You Happiness’ can rightly stake its claim as being one of the greatest heartbreak songs ever written. Only Damon Gough could write the lyric “But I just wanna wish you happiness for the time that I was with you and the rest”, such a mature and sweet way to say goodbye to a relationship. ‘I’m Not Sure What It Is’ follows and we see Damon moving towards the future, thinking about what next, with a positive spring in his step as he sings “The true test is how you feel when you’re alone, the best part is that the future’s unknown, and the next part of our story’s untold”.
‘Tony Wilson Said’ is a funky foot stomper that will see you grooving around your house during lockdown, opening your windows and showing the world how much you are enjoying life right now despite all the troubles out there throughout the world. This is a wonderful tribute to the genius of Tony Wilson and how much we all owe to the great man “He left more than a million footprints all over this town”. ‘I Need Someone to Trust’ is a majestic pop song that sweeps you high up in to the sky and will leave you bouncing from cloud to cloud. Further inspiration can be found in the lyrics “The best kind of self defense is when you learn to love yourself”. This song really will make you feel on top of the world.
If you are looking for ballads of course this album will not let you down; ‘Funny Time Of Year’ has such a wistful, romantic sound that will instantly bring peace into your life. ‘Never Change’ has everything and more you could ever ask for from a song. The orchestration will fill your heart with joy, the lyrics will see you reflect on life and think towards the future “Think about the friends that we’ve made, Remind us of who we are”, and how can we not feel positive about living life to the fullest when we hear the lyric “If you never lived, you’ll never die”. The album closer ‘I’ll Do My Best’ is a reminder to those who constantly chase happiness and think we have to look far and wide when often what we need is staring us in the face, “I’ve been a fool for chasing happiness when it was there all along”.
Banana Skin Shoes treats us to fourteen songs. In an interview I recently heard with Damon Gough he discussed how he thought that fourteen songs may have been too many but due to the gap since his last album he wanted to give us as much as he could. Well I can reassure him and anyone thinking this album is too long. The opposite in fact, we could have easily had more. There really is not any moment in this album where you wish it would end, or your thoughts start drifting. The album is such a comfort during these times, and is one that I urge each and every one of you to spend as much time with as you possibly can.