Screen Jams: Badly Drawn Boy’s ‘Is There Nothing We Could Do?’

Becky Bain | December 31, 2009 9:24 am

Screen Jams is our recurring look at the most buzzworthy new music featured in movies, TV shows, and video games—pretty much any form of entertainment you can enjoy with your eyes. British singer and songwriter Damon Gough – aka Badly Drawn Boy – is no stranger to soundtracks. He composed the score and songs for 2002’s About a Boy, and he’s back after a three-year break (his last studio release was 2006’s Born in the U.K.) with the soundtrack for Is There Nothing We Could Do?, music from and inspired by the British TV movie The Fattest Man in Britain. Does it stand up against his first foray into movie music magic? Indulge yourself in our take on the Brit singer’s latest cinematic offering, below.

A little about the film first. The Fattest Man in Britain is written by Caroline Aherne and Jeff Pope, and stars Timothy Spall (of the Harry Potter franchise). Inspired by a true story, it chronicles the heavy burden carried by Georgie Godwin, who’s so proud to be the fattest man in the United Kingdom that he enlists the help of a manager to keep him at his fighting (over-)weight and turns himself into a one-man tourist attraction. Check out the trailer below.

Considering that he penned the acclaimed (and fairly successful) soundtrack to About a Boy, it is a little surprising that Gough would shift to orchestrating music for the small screen, even moreso since few people outside of Britain will have the chance to see Fattest Man. But the film is lucky to have him.

Cough’s music is dreamlike, wistful, and yes, cinematic—he deftly manages to create a certain atmosphere without overpowering the action on the screen. The subdued and delicate title track “Is There Nothing We Could Do?” is probably the one you’ll walk away humming the most, although you may have a problem differentiating it from the rest of the songs, as the tone is fairly uniform all the way through.

Separated from the context of the film, this album is well-suited to accompany a raindy day—Gough sounds as if he wrote this music under a cloud, with downtempo piano-laden and guitar-strummed tracks creating a gray and brooding vibe. But Gough adds a childlike tone here and there: there are bells and triangles (and maybe even a glockenspiel in there?) recalling the nuances of About a Boy. In fact, you could probably just call this soundtrack About a Fat Man since Gough hasn’t really stretched the dimensions of  his music (as pleasant as it is) from the beginning of the decade to the end of it.

Badly Drawn Boy is supremely talented, and hey, if  it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But next time, we’d really like to see Gough push himself and perhaps break a sweat.

Here’s the tracklisting:

01. Opening Theme 02. Is There Nothing We Could Do? 03. A Gentle Touch 04. All The Trimmings 05. Welcome Me To Your World 06. Guitar Medley 07. Is There Nothing We Could Do (Reprise) 08. Big Brian Arrives 09. Amy In The Garden 10. Been There, Verified 11. Just Look At Us Now 12. Wider Than A Smile 13. Piano Theme 14. The Letter 15. I’ll Carry On