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The Divine Comedy

  • Liberation,
  • Promenade,
  • Casanova,
  • Short Album About Love,
  • Fin De Siecle,
  • Regeneration,
  • Absent Friends,
  • Victory For The Comic
  • The Duckworth Lewis Method,
  • Bang Goes The Knighthood,

  • Album Reviews |

    The Divine Comedy

    1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th

    Liberation 9 ( 1993 )
    Festive Road / Death Of A Supernaturalist / Bernice Bobs Her Hair / I Was Born Yesterday / Your Daddys Car / Europop / Timewatching / Pop Singers Fear Of The Pollen Count / Queen Of The South / Victoria Falls / Three Sisters / Europe By Train / Lucy

    Take influences from classical composer Michael Nyman, mix it in with a bit of Scott Walker and add a dose of pop for good measure. And, you'll have something approaching the music of The Divine Comedy. Essentially The Divine Comedy consist of Neil Hannon ( who plays almost everything here ) and a rotating cast of assorted side players and string sections. This particular album displays pretty much all of those aspects in equal measure and adds a little Divine Comedy originality as well. We open with 'Festive Road', a short but wonderful opening track. Intriguing lyrics, wonderfully melodic and great sounding Piano and a few swoon-some vocals. It flows into the second song 'Death Of A Supernaturalist' which has an evocative mix of instrumentation beneath the string section. Again, the lyrics are intelligent and intriguing. There is a certain 'atmosphere' to these songs. Its very easy to imagine why people adore these early Divine Comedy records. Especially when 'Bernice Bobs Her Hairs' floats in! 'Ba ba ba' Beach Boys harmonies, twinkling keyboards and piano, a little jangle in the guitar. What more could you ask for? The lyrics are funny and the whole thing is just....ah. When the harmonies come in during the chorus part, a smile is almost guaranteed. 'I Was Born Yesterday' is simpler than any of the opening songs but enriched but spoken vocal sections.

    Whilst the opening of this album is pretty good, a real work of genius remains. A couple actually. We have 'Your Daddy's Car' with brilliant storytelling and romantic lyrics. The music is rich and melodic, going far beyond what is generally required for seemingly a simple pop song. We have 'Timewatching' which is tears in the eyes sad. The string section provides the sole backing here behind Neil's soaring and lovely vocal performance. 'Europop' and 'Pop Singers Fear Of The Pollen Count' lose the subtly of other songs here. They are akin to being bashed over the head with a sugar coated brick with 'pop' engraved in the side. They point the way towards The Divine Comedy's future, but are far from being the most alluring and attractive things here. Far more alluring and attractive are the likes of 'Queen Of The South', 'Victoria Falls' and the simply astonishing 'Lucy'. 'Lucy' uses a poem from William Wordsworth as the basis for its lyric. 'Queen Of The South' has attractive guitar work and lovely tender vocals. 'Victoria Falls' features such great sounding guitar in amidst accomplished drums all wrapped up in an artistic, high brow pop song format. The vocals bring it more down to earthly thrills with spine chilling harmonies and yet more fantastic lead vocals from Neil.

    This wasn't actually The Divine Comedy's début. They had released a quickly deleted album as a proper four piece before all the members quit bar Neil. The freedom and lack of interest afforded the groups continued future allowed Neil the opportunity to create this work in an atmosphere of seclusion apart from the regular rock and pop scene. It shows, its simply beautiful - and whilst not quite perfect gets pretty damn close to being an absolute classic.

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    Promenade 10 ( 1994 ) more best albums...
    Bath / Doing Downhill Fast / The Booklovers / A Seafood Song / Geronimo / Don't Look Down / When The Lights Go Out All Over Europe / The Summerhouse / Neptunes Daughter / A Drinking Song / Ten Seconds To Midnight / Tonight We Fly

    Conceptually, this album is about a day in the life of two young lovers. Well, why can't it be? It's a charming idea, and one that's both executed well and something you can completely ignore in order to simply concentrate on the music. The performers this time round remain Neil Hannon plus added orchestra though Darren Allison, future member of the group, co-produces and helps out on drums. And, now wait for this....the whole thing is an absolute masterpiece. A stunning work of musical genius unsurpassed by practically anybody throughout the nineties, not least, Neil himself. You may have heard one of The Divine Comedy's better known songs. 'The National Express' perhaps. Or 'Something For The Weekend'. Listening to this will truly make you believe they were the work of a different group altogether than this particular little record. Indeed, the were, actually. I hope Neil gets back to the concept of one man plus orchestra. It works, it rocks! Ok, so it doesn't rock. This is far removed from Rock music, and whilst 'Liberation' had its share of more straightforward pop moments - this is something else altogether. A concept pop album played by a classical orchestra and sung by someone who sounds a little like a Scott Walker crooner. Just a little, not too much, but enough.

    The concept? We open with a song called 'Bath' which is a delightfully charming short introduction. We end with the segue from 'Ten Seconds To Midnight' and 'Tonight We Fly' which end the day and close the album. 'Going Downhill Fast' is quirky and pleasant but certainly no masterpiece. 'The Booklovers' is a little better, a list of famous books spoken rather than sung and accompanied by a string section and added samples and noises purporting to be the characters and authors mentioned. Its both funny and strangely spine tingling. The music is wonderful, the sound of the strings here is very alluring. And, as each previous song has been better than the previous one ( but, each song good in its own right ) its only appropriate that 'A Seafood Song' is absolutely superb. The first all out classic work of genius here. We have harmonies, wonderful grin inducing lyrics and a simply fabulous happy and great sounding string section. This is pop music? Classical? It's a stunning mesh of both, with added art and literature. The quirky, funny lyrics bring it down to earth. Yes, this is accessible for both me and you. The section in the middle where the track breaks off, goes off and Neil just....makes me swoon. Wonderful singing. 'Geronimo' is haunting, sad sounding with descending but quickly played Piano lines. 'Don't Look Down' which wraps up the first half has an opening instrumental section that sounds like a movie score then sweetly strummed guitar comes in, the strings disappear and the whole thing proceeds to progress through different sections.

    By the time 'When The Lights Go Out All Over Europe' if you haven't already cried tears of joy, you will now. 'The Summerhouse' is an evocatively sung slow Brian Wilson style ballad. 'Neptune's Daughter' is full of dramatic, well arranged strings ( arranged by Neil! ) and 'A Drinking Song' absolutely ridiculous to tell you the truth, much more later style Divine Comedy though still hugely entertaining considering the company its keeping here! It adds variety and works as a happy, silly entertaining song. The closing two tracks which flow into each other are both absolutely beautiful. The heartbreaking ballad of 'Ten Seconds To Midnight' followed by the sheer joy and happy to be alive thrill of 'Tonight We Fly'. I find that song impossibly romantic and full of dreams. I find this an absolutely fantastic album, that, given three or four listens really will find some way inside of your heart. I hope so, at least.

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    Joynsey joydivision16@hotmail.com
    Absolutley spot on here Adrian! This is a wonderful concept album, and deservably a classic! ...its just a shame not many people get to here it..if only for 'The Summerhouse'...

    celia celia_hill@hotmail.com
    Hi, i´m Celia. sorry but my english is not very good... I was looking for some pics of divine comedy and I found this web. it´s nice to find people who feel that thrill when they listen to this band (and some others, i´ve seen you also like Scott walker and there are many more). Maybe is not very interesting but I just wanted to say that I fly every single night since I listened to "tonight we fly" the very first time (live in Benicassim ´97). that´s all. :D

    Albert Woods asjwoods@gmail.com
    I rate Going Downhill Fast as one of the finest songs on this album. Such lovely vocals from Neil and the song is just so melodic and lovely. Anyway, this and Casanova are both 10/10.

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    Casanova 7 ( 1996 )
    Something For The Weekend / Becoming More Like Alfie / Middle-Class Heroes / In And Out Of Paris And London / Charge / Songs Of Love / The Frog Princess / A Woman Of The World / Through A Long And Sleepless Night / Theme From Casanova / The Dogs And The Horses

    Where Neil Hannon ditches the Michael Nyman influences and replaces them with a pop sensibility and a concept in keeping with the albums title. The Michael Nyman influence is missed, the songs are much more straightforward and even overblown in places where he does attempt an orchestral epic. See the closing 'The Dogs And The Horses' whereby news of The Divine Comedy sounding a little like Scott Walker had obviously got through to Neil - so he attempts his very own Scott ballad epic. It doesn't quite work in terms of execution. Its way over the top and just too obvious. Songs such as 'Charge' contain little in the way of melodic invention, so steeped is Neil in this new 'Casanova' character. Still, not all is bad, even if hit single ( yes, hit single! ) 'Something For The Weekend' is largely loathsome. 'Becoming More Like Alfie' and 'The Frog Princess' were the other hits. The latter is an OK ballad but hardly something like 'Victoria Falls' from 'Liberation'. 'Becoming More Like Alfie' fares better, a fine pop melody mixed in with enjoyable lyrics.

    Middle-Class Heroes' is in keeping with the theme of the album, but this time with a really funny introduction and wonderful lyrics throughout. An alluring and relaxed melody, too. 'In And Out Of Paris And London' is also a quality song, much more balanced in its mix of funny sexual double entendre lyrics and relaxed lounge like music. 'Songs Of Love' was the theme tune to Channel Four sit-com 'Father Ted' but given lyrics here as opposed to that shows instrumental version. Its a winning and light melody full of quirks and complete with nice little backing vocal parts. 'Woman Of The World' is slow and turgid, 'Through A Long And Sleepless Night' interesting for its musical charge but ends up losing your interest as it begins to repeat itself and then ends with a shouted vocal and a fairly embarrassing lyric. Still, what raises this from an average six to an ok seven for me, is the stupid little breezy instrumental, 'Theme From Casanova'. Neil was starting to reject material like this at the time, but it really does have such a nice melody. Its so nice, it sends a chill up your spine and brings a little tear to the eye. It does! Many view it as simplistic pointless filler and completely ignore the winning melody and charming atmosphere. But yeah, this is a hugely inconsistent album overall with this and other high points dragged down by weaker songs. Still, even after saying all of that, given the first two albums were just so good you find yourself forgiving Neil some of his indulgences, and this album does just about work in the end.

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    Albert Woods asjwoods@gmail.com
    10/10. An equal to Promenade in every sense, remarkable as that record is. A Woman Of The World and Through A Long And Sleepless night are just about the two greatest songs the guy ever wrote and I find it incredible how easily you dismissed them. Just give it a second chance and I think you'll find that it's actually his most consistent and indeed his best album.

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    A Short Album About Love 6 ( 1997)
    In Pursuit Of Happiness / Everybody Knows ( Except You ) / Someone / If... / If I Were You / Timewatching / I'm All You Need

    An album showcasing previously rejected material, an old song re-done and a couple of newbies thrown in. Recorded live with a full orchestra. Oh, but of course! The sound created is pretty rich actually although lacking the personal touch of the first couple of records. The opening 'In Pursuit Of Happiness' is a pure Neil Hannon melody however in its jumping around percussion and soaring string section. And, it really does sound good. 'Everybody Knows ( Except You ) was the song a Neil Hannon impersonator performed on 'Stars In Their Eyes' a talent show where members of the public are transformed to appear exactly like their heroes and then proceed to sing a famous hit belonging to their hero complete with vocal impersonations, the whole works. Its a funny show, but the very fact Neil Hannon was impersonated shows how much those silly songs on 'Casanova' and 'Everybody Knows ( Except You )' had reached the public. Still, those songs simply aren't Neil's better songs! He's far better reaching out in terms of musical invention and ambition. As witnessed here by the soaring 'Someone' where he really does achieve a Scott Walker style ballad. Unlike the closing track on 'Casanova' this is perfectly judged and performed and heartbreaking in places. 'If...' even more so, in a similar style and very tears in the eyes but for its lack of a proper ending. It doesn't end, rather just stops and lacks a proper crescendo as a result.

    The closing songs include a rather wonderful full live orchestral version of the Liberation song 'Timewatching'. The two songs surrounding this go from the inconsequential but ultimately pleasant 'If I Were You' to 'I'm All You Need'. Sadly, although 'I'm All You Need' has some impressive orchestral parts through the latter section of the song - it doesn't manage to contain any subtly. Yeah, this is a mini-album and perhaps not meant to be judged against his albums proper, but really - this is just a step further down from his early peaks and rather disappointing overall.

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    Peter mcSorley peterfmcsorley@btinternet.com
    CANNOT believe this!! This album is by far the greatest of the Divine Comedy's output. Musically unsurpassed and, though OTT (like all their stuff)has an intensity and lack of whimsy that stands it apart-and I bet Neil would agree.

    Mark Galloway TheComicMuse@peskeycats.co.uk
    I must agree with previous posting. This is the best album that Neil has done. I saw him perfom this live and it was jaw dropping fantastic. Great cello.

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    Fin De Siecle ( 1998 )
    Generation Sex / Thrillseeker / Commuter Love / Sweden / Eric The Gardener / National Express / Life On Earth / The Certainty Of Chance / Here Comes The Flood / Sunrise

    Aha! Now this sounds like 'Casanova' and 'A Short Album About Love' never happened! And yes, that's a good thing! This is the album that should have followed 'Promenade' and whilst its not as good, it is still good. If that makes sense. And yes, it's better than 'Casanova' and 'A Short Album About Love', thankfully. Clumsy explanation out of the way, let's get down to business shall we? The opening 'Generation Sex' combines a 'Promenade' musical approach with 'Casanova' lyrics. The music is just so good though. A classic Divine Comedy rhythm, a great string section and lots of hooks. 'Thrillseeker' sounds very clear production wise given its wall of noise in the chorus parts. The production in general throughout this album is very good, actually. 'Sweden' is a lovely soaring ballad, 'Eric The Gardener' an eight minute keyboard and string assisted epic. Whilst neither of these songs reach the peaks of the very best of earlier Divine Comedy material they seem to be cut from the same cloth. Very obviously the work of the same guy, Neil Hannon. Commercial considerations appear to have been put partly to one side here.

    'The National Express' kicks off the second half. It was a big hit for them, quite unexpectedly as the first two singles from the record had failed somewhat dismally. It's a happy song but it will almost certainly get on your nerves very quickly. 'Life On Earth' is atmospheric and very European sounding, 'The Certainly Of Chance' an overly slow and overly long and over the top ballad. Pause for breath.

    'Here Comes The Flood' is fantastically quirky but very enjoyable with it. A bouncy rhythm and a sing-along chorus to open. Trumpet and sax, female backing vocals in unison - a whole choir seemingly. The song is unusual, in a good way. It's hugely enjoyable and once again, wonderfully recorded and clear sounding. Sounds like a movie theme. 'Sunrise' is better yet again. It matches the 'Promenade' feel of the opening song. This is the sound of 'Promenade' but sounding better. Fascinating lyrics, a wonderful vocal and this 'Sunrise' song very nearly beats the likes of 'Tonight We Fly' from the legendary 'Promenade' album. Nearly. Still, it wraps up this album very nicely, thank you. A good quality record, a decent seller too thanks to 'National Express'.

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    Kari karimelissajohn@yahoo.com
    The Certainty of Chance is the best pop song I have ever heard, it is incredible!

    Paul Haines paul_haines@hotmail.com
    I'd be giving 9.5 to "Fin De Sicle" and "Casanova", and a 9 to "A Short Album About Love". A great, beautifully consistent period of songwriting, and for me the peak of The Divine Comedy's output. (I've got all the albums too).

    declan stylofone stylofone@priest.com
    I think your ratings are pretty right. Fin de Siecle was a return to form. I remember the emotional moment the Good Friday accords were signed, and "Sunrise" always brings tears to my eyes. I can believe there's hope for humanity when I hear this song.

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    Regeneration 6 ( 2001 )
    Timestretched / Bad Ambassador / Perfect Lovesong / Note To Self / Lost Property / Eye Of The Needle / Love What You Do / Dumb It Down / Mastermind / Regeneration / The Beauty Regime

    Neil signs at long last to a major label ( EMI ) but he doesn't sound happy. A few by number old style Divine Comedy songs apart, this album does not sound happy at all. He roped in Radiohead's producer for this to try to break out of his old sound - hence the albums hopeful title. The music certainly doesn't sound hopeful although some of it certainly does sound pretty. Take opener 'Timestretched' so lovely and pretty it could have fitted straight onto 'Liberation' but for the richer production here. 'Bad Ambassador' was released as a single - wasn't a big hit although its hard to work out why not. Maybe the Queen style guitar put fans of The Divine Comedy off a little? 'Perfect Lovesong' is so by numbers it sounds like it was written by a child. 'and a big old Beach Boys sound, I'll match you pound for pound'. Except that he doesn't match The Beach Boys, a 'big old Beach Boys sound' is conspicuous by its absence. Still, I'm being harsh. It is a happy, tuneful song and its not too bad - just nothing new given other songs here stretching the usual Divine Comedy formula.

    Highlights? We had a few. 'Note To Self' is led by drums, bass and a simple repetitive guitar line. The lyrics are as the songs title suggests, personal and 'diary' style. And, pretty wonderful sung over the repeating guitar figure. 'Dumb It Down' opens with nice guitar work but really this isn't about the music. The lyrics seem to be complaining that the more complex artistic a work of art, literature or music the less likely it is to be appreciated, hence 'Dumb It Down'. It's a great song. Neil sounds in fine voice throughout the album though some of the actual material doesn't match the fine effort he's put in vocally. Musically the album sounds nothing like usual Divine Comedy for the most part, and when it does, it sounds disappointing. The closing 'Beauty Regime' is turgid but for a pleasant string section. Ah! A string section. I miss the strings, the charging rhythms. The album is a brave attempt at moving The Divine Comedy perhaps into a rockier direction but it doesn't really work.

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    Álex Balaclava alex_balaclava@hotmail.com
    Simply: 'Regeneration' is as essential as Love's 'Forever changes'. An album where each note, sound, vision and word say: "Think for yourself". At last, Neil finds its own voice, dismissing Walker, Bacharach, Wilson, Nyman or any other previous influences in his work and turns them into simple references. Not retro, not only crooning. Experimental, intellectual, spiritual. Perfect and flawless album. I fear, my friend, 'Regeneration' deserves, at least, 20 over 10. I hope time will prove so.

    harreh harry_Crowe@hotmail.com
    dude... regeneration is awesome. it has so much feeling, and though the tracks towards the end (though not the last) get a bit boring there is so much movement and emotion in it. The albumn is so uplifting and pretty.. I can see how you might think it dosnt deserve a 9, but a 6?

    Alan Lacey Aluaka@aol.com
    This album was the soundrtrack to my life in 2002. I saw DC live performing Regeneration tracks & hits on the day of my dads funeral - and it gave me hope for life ! It's one of the most complete and seamless albums of all time 10 out of 10 - without any doubt !

    Dan justto_haveone@hotmail.com
    Much of what you said is pleasantly thoughtful, yet in the end you underrate this so much! It's not so bad a record, and it's easy to listen to (if one has any sense).

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    Absent Friends 9 ( 2004 )
    Absent Friends / Sticks And Stones / Leaving Today / Come Home Billy Bird / My Imaginary Friend / The Wreck Of The Beautiful / Our Mutual Friend / The Happy Goth / Freedom Road / Laika's Theme / Charmed Life

    Neil Hannon fans have waited an awfully long time for a return to the sound and/or feel or those two early masterpieces, 'Liberation' and 'Promenade'. Here, it finally arrives once more. Neil plays most of everything, self-produces. Just like he did in the early days. An orchestra does a kind of 'Short Album About Love' thing, only it sounds better. It sounds better because on the likes of 'Mutual Friend' you've got all the Divine Comedy early melodic trademarks, yet played by a full orchestra. Imagine 'Your Daddy's Car', something like that. 'Our Mutual Friend' is every bit the equal of such early highlights, in fact it's better. It marries something like 'Your Daddy's Car' with 'Tonight We Fly' and sounds fantastic. It makes me cry such sheer tears of joy. It's the best song, not only here, but practically everywhere Neil Hannon has ever been. Happily, 'Our Mutual Friend' isn't the only such highlight here. Stabbing strings and fantastic lyrics highlight 'Sticks And Stones' and during 'Leaving Today', Neil out Scott Walker's Scott Walker. That really is something. Only a couple of songs here are a near-miss, everything else is a winner. 'My Imaginary Friend' sounds so sunny, 'Come Home Billy Bird' sounds like a great hit pop single. The word friend or friends appears in many of the song titles here, a cohesive album? Yes. His vocals sound natural in a way they haven't since the days of 'Promenade' or 'Liberation' and they also sound damn impressive surrounded by this rich production.

    Even such filler as the instrumental 'Laika's Theme' tugs at the heartstrings. 'The Happy Goth' starts all sad, moves into a pop thing, has depth. The arrangement and performance are perfect, another potential hit single is born. 'Absent Friends' adds maturity to that early Divine Comedy/Neil Hannon spark. Oh yeah, the opening title song opens the album in a similar way that 'Timestretched' opened 'Regeneration', it sounds like classic Divine Comedy. That is the only single similarity this album has to the previous effort. Happily so, Neil is well and truly back, here. The closing quirky melodic beauty that is 'Charmed Life', the orchestrated splendour that is 'The Wreck Of The Beautiful'. Actually, only the folk influenced 'Freedom Road' fails to totally thrill me. 'Freedom Road' is even still a decent song, so what does that impress upon you? Lapsed fans will return, hopefully. The Divine Comedy regain critical ground here and become very special again.

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    Jason diskojason@aol.com
    Is it really that good? I hated Regeneration and so for the first time I didn't buy the album the day it came out in the UK....my fav albums are A short album...and Promedade....hopefully you are right!

    Johnny johnny@nuonu.net
    great reviews. i think absent friends is the best divine comedy album. however- it's equalled by promenade; i just like absent friends more. i think the melodies are more concise and pop-oriented... less repetitive without sacrificing lyrical depth. i would have given promenade and absent friends both a 9.5, simply because i believe that neil's absolute masterpiece is still to come.... well done, adrian.

    Alan Lacey Aluaka@aol.com
    A great album - very clever .... took some time to grow on me but boy did it grow ! Charmed life is one of the most beautiful tracks ever - written by Nei for his daughter I believe ? I hope my son has a charmed life ....

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    Victory For The Comic Muse ( 2006 )
    To Die A Virgin / Mother Dear / Diva Lady / A Lady Of A Certain Age / The Light Of Day / Threesome / Party Fears Two / Arthur C Clarke's Mysterious World / The Plough / Count Grassi's Passage Over Piemont / Snowball In Negative

    The first album was a fanfare now we've a victory! I like the sense of apparent closure, yet surely we're not putting Divine Comedy to bed yet, are we Neil Hannon? I hope not, because we've been on a great musical journey. The indie pop days are gone, the ambitious life cycles are gone, the romance and lothario age has past. What is there left for Neil to say? Well, for 'Victory For The Comic Muse' ( so, not the little seen 'Fanfare' debut) we've merely more of the same. Well, I say merely. What I mean is this LP will likely provide you with no surprises. Well, I say no surprises, yet 'The Fantastic World Of Arthur C Clarke' is a very clever metaphor for exploring the uncharted territory of your woman. In brief, the first half of this LP is Neil in general pop mode, the second half, clearly identified by a nice little instrumental interlude, is more ambitiously 'true' Divine Comedy music. The strings stab and surge forwards ala Michael Nyman, the lyrics are very intelligently clever. The Scott Walker thing is still there, though not Scott of recent years. Rather Scott the balladeer, Neil still has his vocal pipes in good shape, yes sir. No surprises? Neil borrows a lot of inspiration from movies, musicals. Has he been listening to Abba? 'Victory' is certainly a very 'pop' album in the new sense of the term. It's pop, rather than popular, you see. The last few songs are delicious icing for those that enjoy Neil doing his Nyman + indie thing. Anyway, where was I? Rambling again, I suspect. I apologise.

    Forwards. Forwards movement. This album is a mere subtle alteration and continuation of previous works, yet despite a ho-hum critical reception, I can tell you of the pop delights that sparkle side one, for example. 'To Die A Virgin' may or may not have lyrics that will delight you, yet the tune is decent pop gold. 'Mother Dear' is even better, particularly instrumentally with clear guitar lines and a faint country influence. 'Diva Lady' is another pop gem of the highest order and that's your first three tunes. Not bad at all. I mentioned the Arthur C Clarke song, it's especially good instrumentally. Which leaves the likes of 'The Plough' with its strings and the lonesome furrow it, er, ploughs. 'Lady Of A Certain Age'? One of his best ever songs. So, a rating? It's a difficult one, the album doesn't obviously blow me away as certain other Divine Comedy albums did, although it's certainly one of Neil's most consistent efforts. It's possibly alongside 'Fin De Siecle' as being a Divine Comedy album truly with something for everybody. I can't give them another 9, though, surely? Ah, 'Party Of Two' is one of the most 'fun' things he's ever done, so yes I can. There, it's done! It's an album where a few songs hit you right away, other sink in some time later. It's right, it's all just right. Let's hope it sells.

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    James Scholes james.scholes@gmail.com
    'The Light of Day'? An amazing, beautiful song, with 5 bar phrases that 'just work', which (trust me) is much, much harder than you think. Simple, heartfelt lyrics alongside a melody line that doesn't put a note wrong, accompanied by some of the finest orchestration I've heard of any song, let alone a DC one. I agree, 'Lady of a Certain Age' is fantastic, but I would say 'Light of Day' tops it.

    Peter McSorley peterfmcsorley@hotmail.com
    The Count Grassi song is so complex musically you think what is going on here. Then slowly you 'get it.' Sheer poetry, poignant and philosophical. Even better than 'mutual friend' and interestingly voted best song on album by DC fans on official website.

    Neil Dewhurst neil@neildewhurst.com
    Not sure whether you knew or not, but "Party Fears Two" was originally recorded by The Associates for their album "Sulk" in 1982, and both versions are absolutely wonderful but in completely different ways. I've enjoyed reading your reviews by the way, even if you aren't quite spot on about Regeneration... ;-)

    Richard Kean Peterborough
    The Light Of Day is a true highlight on this album; it surprises by its appearance after some quieter tracks. There's are so many beautiful chord changes in this song and I recommend hearing this song at least once. If you have a photograph slideshow, put this music in the background - what an effect! (Especially easy to do on the Nintendo Wii!) I However, I can't give this album as much as a 9. It isn't an all-rounder like Absent Friends.

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    The Duckworth Lewis Method ( 2009 )
    The Coin Toss / The Age of Revolution / Gentlemen and Players / The Sweet Spot / Jiggery Pokery / Mason on the Boundary / Rain Stops Play / Meeting Mr Miandad / The Nightwatchman / Flatten the Hay / Test Match Special / The End of the Over

    The Duckworth Lewis Method is a convoluted cricket formula for calculating a teams score within certain circumstances - I won't bore anyone with the details, think that's best... Neil Hannon of Divine Comedy and Thomas Walsh of Pugwash have combined under said name to create a concept album about all things cricket. Well, there aren't many cricketing songs, are there? The songs on the album are co-credited to both Hannon and Walsh and the funny thing is if you don't like Cricket, don't despair - they've packed in enough hooks, harmonies and fine gentle melodies to appeal to more than just cricket fans. Sure, 'Jiggery Pokery' about Shane Warne's first delivery in test cricket against England will bewilder many, yet the words are married to Kinks style music-hall. For the cricket fan 'Jiggery Pokery' is very funny indeed. For the music fan, don't be too harsh on it, it's just a bit of fun.

    Now, I don't really know anything about Thomas Walsh, yet it appears he's the one that brings in Beatles influences. Well, Neil Hannon has certain tradmarks which are easy to spot yet elsewhere there are indeed touches of 60s pop, The Beatles in particular. The production is exemplary throughout, 'The Age Of Revolution' mixing in nineteen-thirties swing jazz with modern, even funky beats. The lyrical hook of 'Bangalore to Kingston, the age of revolution' is hard to resist - this arrives after 'The Coin Toss' provides us with a perfect, short and typically Hannon piece of whimsy. 'Rain Stops Play' is an excellent instrumental from the man who gave us the theme tune to 'Father Ted' and 'The Sweet Spot' borders on sexy glam rock, not something you'd expect on a concept album about cricket.

    Ballads and gentle pop such as 'Mason On The Boundary', 'The Nightwatchmen' and 'Gentlemen And Players' are superb songs, among the best Hannon has ever been involved in and comparing these tunes to recent Hannon work, you can only deduce the arrival of Thomas Walsh as a collaborator for him and revitalised his pop senses. With or without the cricket references, 'The Duckworth Lewis Method' is quite simply wonderful and wonderful enough in a pop sense to deserve to produce a hit or three. It won't of course, unless the English win the ashes perhaps? Well, even then, I doubt we'll get much support from the pop stations in this country, all of whom seem to wish they were American.

    Oh, a final word and a final punt as such to fans of XTC, particularly the latter day compositions of Colin Moulding. 'Flatten The Hay' would fit right in on either of the last two XTC albums or their acclaimed 'Skylarking'. In short, it's utterly lovely.

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    Bang Goes The Knighthood 7 ( 2010 )
    Down in the Street Below / The Complete Banker / Neapolitan Girl / Bang Goes the Knighthood / At the Indie Disco / Have You Ever Been in Love / Assume the Perpendicular / The Lost Art of Conversation / Island Life / When a Man Cries / Can You Stand Upon One Leg / I Like

    Some fans of Divine Comedy have been waiting since 'Casanova' and 'Short Album About Love' for a mostly upbeat, fun pop Divine Comedy album. Well, now they've got one. Fans have been profusive with their praise yet a small bunch of fans are frowning furiously because they prefer arty/melancholy Hannon. They preferred it when he was trying to be Michael Nyman rather than Neil Innes. Inbetween these extremes he made albums like 'Fin De Siecle' which kind of drew together both strands in equal measures. He went sideways with 'Regeneration', something of a marmite release. As for the commercial success of 'Bang Goes The Knighthood', it's bettered the peak chart position of 'Duckworth Lewis Method' and hit the top twenty for one week, his best showing since 2004. Hannon isn't really about chart success of course, but it's nice when he gets some. In that respect, 'Bang Goes The Knighthood' is the perfect stylistic release to follow the beatleseque pop of Duckworth Lewis Method. Well, ELO-esque pop, if you must. In truth, this tenth Divine Comedy album is something of a mixed bag. There are moments of lushness with 'Have You Ever Been In Love', just one harking back to Nyman/Walker, at least one heavily nodding towards Duckworth Lewis Method and at least a couple of Hannon pop gems. Overall this is a happy album, suitable for our current age of austerity. With many bands going all po-faced and angsty on us, perhaps Hannon has indeed judged the mood just right with 'Bang Goes The Knighthood', an album it's almost impossible to frown at.

    'Neapolitan Girl' deserves to be a hit, even more so than download only single 'At The Indie Disco', which although fun is rather too knowing for its own good. Ah, I know Hannon meant every word of 'At The Indie Disco' but it's rather too Hannon-esque for its own good, if that makes any sense at all? 'Neapolitan Girl' is also Hannon-esque but it packs deft musical touches and lushious harmonies along the way. The title track is a little clumsy, 'The Complete Banker' we understand but it lacks Hannon's usual lightness of touch - 'Can You Stand Upon One Leg' is Neil Innes, Monty Python and sadly, utterly forgettable fare. 'Assume The Perpendicular' seems it could have been a Duckworth Lewis Method outtake given some new lyrics but whatever, it's a wonderful slice of Hannon observation and I may as well draw a line under this review right about now. Hannon's still got it is the only conclusion we can really draw, but for every Hannon highpoint, there seems to be something of a Hannon faux pas right next to it. Still, I am of course only one man. The fan-base seem largely pleased and that's really all that matters for now.

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    this page last updated 04/07/10

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