a short site about The Divine Comedy

Fin de Siècle

Orchestral pop has become late-Nineties boom genre. No trip-hop troupe or groaning rock band can do without a monster orchestra sawing away behind them. The Verve, Oasis and the Manic Street Preachers have all had it away with strings. The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon is an odd part of the new orchestral picture. His albums mix romantic pop with cheesy loungecore, while his plummy tenor vocals seem not to know if they want to be Scott Walker or Bertie Wooster. Fin de Siècle sags beneath the weight of its millennial concept. The orchestrations plunges uneasily between lushness, Mantovani easy listening (complete with tinny staccato piano), and homage to Sixties film scores. Hannon’s tone is equally uncertain: ‘Generation Sex’ is frivolous; ‘Eric the Gardener’, a soaring piece of pastoralims and ‘Sunrise’, his comment on an Ulster upbringing.


Neil Spencer
The Observer 30/08/1998