a short site about The Divine Comedy


Every once in a while, an album sounds exactly right for the times. In 1998, The Divine Comedy constructed just such an album with Fin de Siècle, distilling a decade’s worth of pre-millennial tension into a windswept, romantic vision of Europe at the crossroads of history. Less unrelentingly arch than any of singer-songwriter Neil Hannon’s previous work, Fin created the perfect outlet for his outsized gestures in sweeping songs so shot through with yearning and ennui that they dared accusations of simple irony, while keeping his trademark cleverness on display. Had the new Regeneration, the band’s first since Fin, arrived simultaneous to its European release earlier this year, it might have done the same for the post-millennial malaise that now has the concrete end date of Sept. 11. As is, Regeneration already sounds like a transmission from another era. Now married and, from the sound of it, enjoying himself, Hannon has crafted an album filled with domestic bliss and armchair manifestos. “Give me your love and I’ll give you the perfect lovesong / With a divine Beatles bassline and a big old Beach Boys song”, Hannon declares on ‘Perfect Lovesong’. The sentiment typifies the disc’s relaxed, country-life feel, even if it reveals little about the band’s sound. Working with Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich and an expanded lineup of musicians, Hannon’s latest takes The Divine Comedy in a promising new direction. Furthering the mature leaning of Fin but losing the bombast, Regeneration provides a dense atmospheric, melody-driven accompaniment to Hannon’s musings on the passing of time (‘Timestretched’), forgotten items of the past (‘Lost Property’), and pernicious social trends (‘Dumb it Down’, ‘The Beauty Regime’). For a man who one crafted the transcendently camp, hormone-drenched song cycle of Casanova, Hannon wears his new-found seriousness pretty well. While Regeneration may now sound hopelessly in tune with the tenor of another time, it also suggests that Hannon’s future work will fare better.

Keith Phipps
The Onion 22/11/2001