a short site about The Divine Comedy

French version

Fanfare For The Comic Muse

Setanta is a London-based indie label that has made it hip to like Irish bands once more. While the majors continue to throw dosh at the talentless, Setanta have quietly picked up unknowns, teamed them with fitting producers and made a bucketful of quality records.

Power of Dreams, Into Paradise and Beethoven have all benefitted from the connection, and now there's The Divine Comedy, a disgustingly young three-piece from the bandit territory of Fermanagh.

Setanta's latest stroke of genius has been to get one-time Undertones lynchpin John O'Neill - who made such an impressive job of Power of Dreams' debut EP - to produce. But where POD shared Irelands finest export skill for perfect pop, the Divvies confidently bare their souls over gentle, often timid melodies. They're no wimps, though, with a brand of tunefulness owing much to The Byrds and early REM.

"Ignorance is Bliss" opens, jingles and jangles in all the right places and vocalist Neil Hannon and guitarist John McCullagh effortlessly produce the sweetest of harmonies. It's a surprisingly intelligent look at love as Hannon is a mere 19, and leaves you wondering what he'll be capable of once he's digested a little rock'n'roll lifestyle. The following "Indian Rain" shows off Hannon's guitar skills to the full, and recalls Stars of Heavan at their finest. "Bleak Landscape" is pure Byrds, though it's a testimony to TDC's ability that the comparison is pretty favourable.

Just when you think it can't get better they shift gears and blast into the soon-to-be-classic "Tailspin". In a delightful display of mischief O'Neill opens the track with a pitch-perfect replica of the feedback intro to "Jimmy Jimmy". While the vocals recall Michael Stipe, there's a bracing air of originality to it. On "Logic Vs. Emotion" they at last succumb to the Undertones influence, but if you like "Wednesday Week" and "Julie Ocean", this is for you.

A bloody good debut, basically, though in truth, it does take about five listens to convince. Let's just hope they don't sign to a major.


Leo Finlay
Sounds 04/08/1990