a short site about The Divine Comedy

French version

Liberation

Take Ray Davies' whimsy, fab Macca's arrangemental nous, the Pet Shop Boys' bone-dry wit, Marc Almonds luminous theatricality. Collect everything simultaneously arch, pretty, smart, camp, infuriating and, sod it, just plain lush about pop music, stick it all in the back of a Bently and drive it into the sea.

And if you can't afford to do that, then buy this record, because only once in a lifetime does a round thing with a hole in it dare to flounce around your drawing room in a William Morris floral print waistcoat, stick and naughty tongue in your ear and leave you so cruelly bewildered.

Neil Hannon is The Divine Comedy. He used to have a band, but they were shite. The released a record called "Fanfare" which we urge you to forget, because "Liberation" doesn't even hail from the same planet.

He writes songs about Mr. Benn ("Festive Road") and Jazz Age flappers forced by peer pressure to shed their beloved locks ("Bernice Bobs Her Hair"), and treats them with such charm and heartmassaging melody that you are forced to take them seriously.

"Too clever by half" are words which will follow "Liberation" like a council tax inspector on heat. And if you were honest you'd concede that Hannon's knowingness occasionally threatens the boundaries of good taste.

Pretension is a much mistrusted thing in opo, and Hannon's PG Wodehouse poses certainly quality as such, but "Liberation"s' strength lies in it's complete freedom from hauteur. No grand gestures or universal themes, just an array of seductive yarns, pithily told, circumscribed by Hannon's dramatic crooning and glorious, gleeful tunemanship.

If only Setanta would release "Pop Singers Fear of the Pollen Count" before the summer dies, then even Radio 1 would be forced to salute to his genius.


Danny Frost
NME 14/08/1993