a short site about The Divine Comedy

Fin De Siècle

Oh that fin de siecle feeling. The feeling that everything has already een done and all that’s left is repetition, and worse still, commentary. Charles Baudelaire, the last great French Romantic poet of the 19th century, characterised in his collection Spleen And Ideal the emotional and psychological ennui of his generation as a kind of spiritual malaise of “so what... next?” A hundred years later, on the eve of the millennium, Neil Hannon takes the question and infuses it with an unusual romantic yearning. The Divine Comedy’s new album Fin de Siecle may not know what the answer is but figures that there is something more in spite of evidence to the contrary.

Though Hannon’s lyrics describe a world of emotional, psychological and cultural fatigue, his music renders the seriousness of his intentions ironic with its mixture of jaunty cabaret (a cross between Dada nonsense, Berlin Decadence and Vegas Lounge) and ersatz pop, part new electronica and part loaf rock. Opening with the upbeat ‘Generation Sex’ and closing with the elegiac and autobiographical ‘Sunrise’, Hannon charts a zig-zag course of solemn pessimism and willful optimism between the emotional disaffection of ‘Commuter Love’, the twee solipsism of ‘Eric The Gardener’, the jolly hedonism of ‘Sweden’ and the sing-along angst of ‘Here Comes The Flood’ (“Here come the race/From outer space, baby/It’s all over/We’re all gonna die”). The pleasure of Hannon’s album is that the end of the century/world/life as we know it is both funny and serious, and something to be celebrated. With Fin de Siècle, the Divine Comedy go out with style on their mind and a song in their heart. It’s the end of the world and we feel fine...

Jocelyn Clarke