XL Recordings - 2002 - 51 mins

The follow-up proper to 2000's Mercury Prize winning 'The Hour of Bewilderbeast', 'Have You Fed The Fish' arrives at a time when Badly Drawn Boy's stock is at an all-time high after further wowing fans and critics with his 'All About A Boy' soundtrack earlier this year. Unfortunately for Damon Gough, every bubble is made to burst…

Kicking off with the cartoonish ditty 'Coming Into Land' - which is prefaced by a conversational intro in which a pilot draws attention to a cloud which "looks exactly like Badly Drawn Boy" - 'HYFTF?' soon settles into a polished but frustratingly rigid tempo.

It isn't until the uplifting horns and strings of the disco-drenched 'All Possibilities' that the album's pulse begins to beat. A fertile patch follows in which the downbeat 'I Was Wrong' segues into the lyrically-inventive 'You Were Right'. Things then descend into more banal and forgettable territory until the final highlight, provided by the hypnotic bass and falsettoed tones of 'Using Our Feet'.

There is much to enjoy on 'Have You Fed This Fish?', and fans of the indie kid in the woolly cap will hail this as another mini masterpiece. Others, however, will see this as more over-rated "quirky balladry" from a prat in a hat. Ultimately, neutrals will have a foot in both camps. Gough, although undoubtedly talented, lacks the lyrical humour of a Morrissey or, latterly, Jarvis Cocker. And while some melodies here are undeniably infectious, the feeling prevails that they could grow tiresome before too long.

An accomplished and confident album it may be, but where the hell is the magic?

Tom Grealis

Tracklisting: Coming Into Land - Have You Fed The Fish? - Born Again - 40 Days 40 Fights - All Possibilities - I Was Wrong - You Were Right - CentrePeace - How? - The Further I Slide - Imaginary Lines - Using Our Feet - Tickets To What You Need - What Is It Now? - Bedside Story