Prettily messing about

In turning his hand to the score of About a Boy (Sheer), the new Hugh Grant film, Damon Gough takes his first deliberate step into the mainstream. But Badly Drawn devotees needn’t fear a lapse in his woolly-hatted indie aesthetic.

Gough is still a romantic eccentric who is as content chirruping aimlessly on a flute as he is writing tinkly pop, tailor-made for the

leftfield-but-catchy slot in the singles chart.

If anything, soundtrack work suits him, facilitating more endearing foolishness rather than less.

Faced with fewer expectations than he would be for a studio album, Gough has indulged his taste for messing about, in the elephantine horns of Rachel’s Flat and the fairground calliope of Delta (Little Boy Blues), while not losing sight of what he is good at: pretty, vulnerable tunefulness, as on the beautiful Silent Sigh and Something to Talk About. There are nine songs, most of them as affecting as anything on Hour of the Bewilderbeast, and seven brief instrumentals thrown in as seasoning. Not merely a stopgap to keep appetites whetted until his next album, About a Boy stands up, very unusually for a soundtrack, in its own right.

Andreas Johnson: Deadly Happy (Warner)

Swedish singer/songwriter Johnson returns with a second album of confident pop that is more self-assured and better put together than Darren Hayes’s recent debut Spin, which is modelled on the same formula. Single Shine is perfect radio pop; the rest is as easy to digest. — Riaan Wolmarans

Carl Cox: Global (Gallo)

Big Black Cox turns up the beat for two CDs of live-mixed, relentless tribal and hard beats and bass, including some of his own tracks, such as Dirty Bass (with Christian Smith) and Want a Life. “I give you this album to play loud,” Cox says. It’s not like you can do anything else. Get it soon. — Riaan Wolmarans

Doves: The Last Broadcast (EMI)

Hailing from Manchester, this trio provides a breath of fresh air in the cloud of power melodies that is the current commercial rock scene created by Creed, Nickelback and their kind. Their style is ambient, wistful and almost dreamy Brit-rock, sometimes reminiscent of laid-back Pulp. Mostly without sticking to any obvious formula or plan, the album still forms a coherent and satisfyingly uplifting listening experience. — Riaan Wolmarans

Scooter: Push the Beat for This Jam: The Second Chapter (Sheffield)

Two CDs of this German techno group’s same old dance-floor thumpers in original and remix form, including Ramp! (The Logical Song) and Posse (I Need You on the Floor). A few new tracks are included, such as Habanera, which borrows from Bizet’s Carmen. It gets lively and jump-up energetic at times, but expect a sad smattering of cheese as well. — Riaan Wolmarans

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