a short site about The Divine Comedy

Absent Friends

Never a man to use a string section where the London Philharmonic will do, Neil Hannon has a vision, and a wardrobe of crushed velvet, that’s paralleled only by OutKast. By far the more specialised taste, he returns from a three-year break more detached from the mainstream than ever. Anyone with fond memories of fluke jollities such as National Express and Something for the Weekend will be flummoxed by Absent Friends’s Jacques Brelian melodrama. It’s quite something - all the more given that he’s now a one-man operation - and merits attention as much for its ludicrousness as anything.

Only Hannon, it’s safe to say, would confect a noirish orchestral opus about a ship’s journey to the breaker’s yard (The Wreck of the Beautiful), or title an Italianate fandango The Happy Goth. And they say popsters are only interested in a safe buck. This ornate gem, steered by the man’s comically suave voice (imagine Dean Martin brooding over an absinthe), won’t be the biggest pop hit of the year, but it will certainly be one of the most interesting.


Caroline Sullivan
The Guardian 26/03/2004