a short site about The Divine Comedy

Fin de Siècle

This is a concept album of sorts – the concept being Derry’s little Dante’s (Neil Hannon) comment on the 20th Century. Certainly, songs like ‘generation Sex’ and ‘Here Comes the Flood’ deal with some of the evocations of this century. Fin de Siècle contains all the panache, theatre and renaissance that we come to expect from Hannon and Co. since Casanova and A Short Album About Love - the album, however, takes itself a lot more seriously. The use of church organs, a choir and the many orchestral manoeuvrings of Divine Comedy’s Joby Talbot are indicative of the progressive, enigmatic style of the album. The clarity and intelligence of the lyrics draws you into the songs and you are soon wrapped in their imagery – you find yourself humming the words after a few listens. The album still retains some of Hannon’s humour – anyone who can write a great song about the ‘National Express’ and make it interesting and funny get my vote. The album’s final track ‘Sunrise’ is a song of hope about Northern Ireland which he personalises by the line – “I was born in Londonderry / I was born in Derry City / Who care what name you call a town when you’re six feet under the ground?”

Fin de Siècle is pure theatre – emotional, decadent, oblique, funny and sad – conveyed with bittersweet lyrics and wonderfully provocative music. An album of great songs at least!

4/5

Michéal Coughlan
Rí-Rá 09/1998