a short site about The Divine Comedy

Heaven Sent!

The Divine Comedy hail from Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh are Neil Hannon (Guitar/lead Vocals), John McCullah (Bass/Backing Vocals) and Kevin Traynor on drums. Even though all three of them are young (2 of them are still at school), their songs display a remarkable maturity both in the lyrics and musical abilities.

They formed towards the end of 1989 and they practised hard and they made a name for themselves in Belfast and Dublin. It was at one of those gigs last April in the Underground in Dublin where they were spotted by Setanta, which is a London based record Label which deals with Irish bands. A deal was offered and the trio took it up and they recorded their first album in May of 1990 and it was released in July entitled Fanfare For The Comic Muse and it was one of the musical highlights of the last year in my opinion. To promote this 7 tracks LP The Divine Comedy played a 3 weeks tour in England. This tour went down very well, so much that Eat offered them a support slot on their next U.K. tour but the band had to turn them down because John and Kevin had to return to school in September to study for exams. The album itself is absolutely brilliant as anyone lucky enough to have a copy will testify. The songs are all excellent and they show the exceptional talents the band possess. Some of the best lyrics to come out of an Irish band in a long while come from the pen of Neil Hannon. The songs tell tales of loves won and lost as well as dealing with other topics such as loneliness while there are more optimistic numbers also re ‘Indian Rain’. There is a remarkable maturity displayed in the lyrics. Anyone who can come up with a song title like ‘Ignorance is Bliss’ is alright with me. It’s a very sad album in many ways and when Neil sings, “I hate unhappy endings and this doesn’t have to be one’, you know he means it. The guitars shimmer and jangle with brilliance throughout the 7 melodic tracks.

They’re a very original band with just the hint of influences from the likes of The Smiths, R.E.M. and The Byrds here and there. The album was produced by ex-Undertones Sean O’Neill and he did a great job. The album drew rave reviews all round from the music press with the likes of Hot Press, Select, Music Week and the NME pouring lavish praise on it. How they conjured up an LP of such excellence is beyond me but Neil’s answer to this is “Well living in the back of beyond, you tend to do nothing but dream... that’s part of the idyllic fantasy you come up with when you’re pissed off with life”.

The album get voted no. 7 in the best debut LP section and the band themselves got voted no. 1 in the most promising Act section in the Hot Press Xmas Poll. They were on Jo Maxi on R.T.E. recently to promote their current single Timewatch. They seem to have a busy year ahead of them as they will be back in the studio to record a new album and prepare for a summer tour. Hopefully, they’ll play Cork for the first time and if they do, no doubt they’ll go down a storm as they’re one of the most talented bands to come out of the fold in a long time. However, if you don’t know that yet then the only consolation is that Ignorance is Bliss!

Sunny Days 9, 06/1991