a short site about The Divine Comedy

They're Simply Divine

After a seemingly endless time away, Neil Hannon's divine popsters return for a short Irish jaunt as part of a current low key tour. Having spent the last two years locked away sorting out their seventh album, Regeneration, fans can expect to hear plenty of new material, supplemented by a selection of older classics.

Despite only coming to public attention in 1996, thanks to a rare display of musical taste by the exerable Chris Evans, Divine Comedy had been building a loyal and appreciative fanbase since the release of their very first record, Fanfare For The Comic Muse in 1990.

However after Evans put the band on his thankfully now departed TFI Friday egomobile for a performance of Something For The Weekend, the band were thrown into the upper reaches of the charts. By performing the admirable feat of sounding like nothing else around, the DC quickly dispelled any notions of them being one-hit-wonders by thriving on their new public profile and delivering catchy pop to order.

Follow-up single, Becoming More Like Alfie tapped into 60s obsessed retro psyche of the time, banging home its heady rush of Baccharach-esque melody with a soaring drop dead perfect chorus crooned in Neil Hannon's particularly groovy style.

("Everybody knows that no means yes, just like glasses come free on the NHS..."). Horrifyingly, but perhaps understandably given their Michael Caine imagery and swinging 60s subject matter, the band were being lumped together with dire comedy-timewarp novelty acts like Mike Flower's Pops and the Brit-Pop Orchestra. The fact that they had provided the theme tune for the ludicrous sitcom Father Ted was doing them no favours in this regard either. However, the album Casanova showcased a band who could write big, clever, catchy pop songs, as well as beautifully contemplative numbers with rare wit.

Three albums later, freshly arrived at big-but-still-indie-honest Parlophone Records after leaving their indie roots at Setanta via a greatest hits record, Divine Comedy are looking to become rock-stars proper. With the new album being produced by Nigel Godrich, he of Kid A fame, it is make or break time for the aspiring band.

Gone are the too clever by half, intellectually wry lyrics that, at first, set Hannon apart and then painted him into a corner creatively. Even the suit has been retired to the wardrobe it seems;during gigs last year Neil was seen sporting a fetching but rather loud shirt.

Much of the new album is comprised of uncharacteristically personal songs, such as Heart Of Darkness and Dumb It Down, which display a much more direct songwriting style than usual.

However, the band have not lost their sense of humour entirely , as new live song Get Me To A Monastery suggests, and the new single Love What You Do provides a neat bridge between the old and the new. Now dab hands at the fame game, with an arsenal of great songs and big record company money to back them up, The Divine Comedy could well be breaking into superstar heaven sooner than they think...

David Roy (Supplied by James McCartney, Dundalk, Ireland)
Irish News 11/01/2001