a short site about The Divine Comedy


Dear Neil Hannon, where have you been all my life? He is the Divine Comedy, a solo Pet Shop Boy, a Style Council of one. His fourth album glistens with retro orchestrations, celebrating linguistic gymnastics (check the internal slant rhyme), amusing interpersonal dynamics, and, above all, style. He’s Irish (Northern), bespectacled (shades) and smocking, reeking cool and cappuccino breath and pretending he knew that leisure suits were chic all along. When he says “Hello? What have we down here? A young lady!” he’s as raunchy as Gene Simmons, and his Barry White parody in ‘Charge’ makes you long for Love Unlimited. Signs of contemporary life - allergy pills, futons and ‘tasteless tie-dyed tablecloths’ on ‘Middle-Class Heroes’ - populate the songs, and Hannon’s happy keyboard work punctuates the grand schemes disguised as musical scores. His voice makes James’ ‘Laid’ seem staid and reserved; he delivers his social commentary with more pomp than a roomful of Rosemary Clooneys. “This is not a sin,” he claims, “It’s not even original.” Another nugget: “I’d rather die than be deprived/of Wonderbras and thunder thighs.” Fire up the timpani; it’s getting saucy in here.

Renee Crist
Option 71, 11-12/1996