a short site about The Divine Comedy

Divine Comedy: Radiohead Redux

In the mid-90′s, Irishman Neil Hannon-who amounts to the Divine Comedy-made his name by fashioning homages to Scott Walker, the Anglo-American orchestral-pop mastermind of the 60′s. Mr. Hannon became something of a pop star for his trouble, while his contemporaries proffered less elegant, lager-fueled pub rock. (You do remember Oasis, yes?) So why would Mr. Hannon wish to do what all of his guitar-wielding countrymen - like Travis, Coldplay and Starsailor - essentially do and re-record Radiohead’s O.K. Computer? This is more or less what he has done. He even ditched his smartly tailored suits for T-shirts and jeans.

With Regeneration (Parlophone), the first full-length Divine Comedy record since 1998, Mr. Hannon does precisely this, but accomplishes a bit more than the above-mentioned bands, all of whom dole out listless, defanged versions of the music Radiohead recorded before the band decided that straightforward songcraft wasn’t ambitious enough.

Truth be told, Mr. Hannon does not entirely abandon his initial modus operandi. ‘Bad Ambassador’, for instance, is punctuated by a sweeping string arrangement and the heroic arcs of his own rich baritone, both serving to offset a great debt to Radiohead’s ‘Karma Police’. But as Regeneration progresses, a sense of dread, accentuated by some ambient effects, seeps in. As he mopes about the yawning soundscape of ‘Eye of the Needle’, one pines for the rollicking come-on of 1996′s ‘Something for the Weekend’.

If there is some kind of deep need among the British public for variations on songs from O.K. Computer, then that need is best served by Mr. Hannon. I must say that I liked him better when he played the decadent sharpie - the chap could wear a suit!

Rob Kemp The New York Observer 19/11/2001