a short site about The Divine Comedy

Liberation - Promenade

"A star in the making" is a spurious plaudit to heap on a small-time performer, for it merely suggests grubby obscurity doesn't become them. But bishop's son Neil Hannon was always famous-without-being-famous, making grand, unnecessarily "finished" music for few ears. Having crossed over into record-buying consciousness, the re-release of his first two albums will not make the new fans wince, for these are no scratchy embarrassments. Self-arranged/co-produced labours of love both, Liberation (1993) is a cut-price version of what was to come: quirky, Scott Walker-infused showoff pop with an underside of melancholy (Victoria Falls, Three Sisters).

1994's Promenade - more of the elegant, brainy same with a dash of Nyman - is coloured by now chief musical sideman Joby Talbot on oboe, saxophone and, blimey, cor anglais. It is but a short hop from top track The Summerhouse to 1996's first hit Something For The Weekend and deserved canonisation. You'll notice that his hair gets slightly longer.

Liberation: 3/5
Promenade: 4/5

Andrew Collins
Q Magazine 10/1997