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Alternative & Indie - Released April 29, 1996 | Divine Comedy Records

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Turning back to a slightly more straightforward rock/pop format turned out to be advantageous for Neil Hannon; Casanova turned into a smash hit in the U.K., while the singles "Something for the Weekend" (at once soaring, cheeky, leering, and truly weird, with lyrics detailing a guy led astray by his lover and attacked by her secret thug companions) and "Becoming More Like Alfie" (a sly '60s acoustic pop number with solid percussion, sampling the Michael Caine movie in question and reflecting on how all the wrong people in life seem to get the girls) became Top Ten charters. Recruiting the equivalent of a full orchestra didn't hurt either, fleshing out the classical/art rock/pop Divine Comedy fusion to even more expansive ranges than before, while drummer Darren Allison and Hannon continued overseeing and co-producing everything, again demonstrating their careful collective ear for the proceedings. Hannon's lyrical music fires on all cylinders as well, from the cockeyed vision of romance in "The Frog Princess" (with more than one low-key French reference in both lyrics and sweeping music) to the wickedly funny and elegant "Songs of Love," detailing how boys and girls seem to be in heat everywhere while all the songwriters are stuck alone writing the title objects in question. In the meantime, there are great one-off moments scattered throughout Casanova. For instance, Hannon's impersonation of a modern dandy as fortune teller at the start of "Middle-Class Heroes" is to die for. He also does one of the best Barry White takeoffs yet recorded in the mid-song break of "Charge," packed with Tennyson references and army commands amid swirling strings and an increasingly loud beat. After topping that off with "Theme from Casanova," a slightly tongue-in-cheek number detailing all the basic credits and inspiration for the album, the result is a massive project that hits the jackpot with smiles all around. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 28, 1994 | Divine Comedy Records

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While in appearance, it seems like a sequel to Liberation -- a similar cover shot down to the typeface that is on the front, in this case showing Hannon in front of the IM Pei-designed entrance to the Louvre, while the back shows a similarly Rococo piece of decoration -- Promenade is in fact even more extremely and defiantly non-rock than its predecessor. With a larger number of string performers to accompany him, not to mention someone on oboe, sax, and cor anglais (English horn), Hannon retains only drummer/co-producer Darren Allison from the previous record to make what remains his most self-conscious art release to date. The opening "Bath" sets the course, with seacoast sounds and a brief spoken word bit that turns into a minimalist Michael Nyman homage before slamming into the song proper, where the guitars and bass take a back seat to the choir, strings, and woodwinds, all the while driven along by Allison's solid percussion. From there all kinds of twists and turns emerge in an alternate universe where classical instrumentation offers as much pop as a guitar strum. The extreme archness of "Going Downhill Fast" is also a pub singalong, while "Don't Look Down" builds to a dramatic, striking ending. Hannon's wickedly sharp wit informs almost everything; "The Booklovers" is the clear winner on that count, as Hannon tremulously recites a number of authors' names (with an appropriate accompanying sample or aside, often quite hilarious) over a stately arrangement. "A Seafood Song" and "A Drinking Song" celebrate exactly what they say they do, the latter offering up the great line "All my lovers will be pink and elephantine!" At the same time, the tender side of Hannon, which has sometimes been ignored, surfaces more than once, with "The Summerhouse," a nostalgic, wonderfully gentle piece on a lost season of love. This turns out to be one of Hannon's best songs ever. © Ned Raggett /TiVo

Alternative & Indie - Released April 29, 1996 | Divine Comedy Records

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Turning back to a slightly more straightforward rock/pop format turned out to be advantageous for Neil Hannon; Casanova turned into a smash hit in the U.K., while the singles "Something for the Weekend" (at once soaring, cheeky, leering, and truly weird, with lyrics detailing a guy led astray by his lover and attacked by her secret thug companions) and "Becoming More Like Alfie" (a sly '60s acoustic pop number with solid percussion, sampling the Michael Caine movie in question and reflecting on how all the wrong people in life seem to get the girls) became Top Ten charters. Recruiting the equivalent of a full orchestra didn't hurt either, fleshing out the classical/art rock/pop Divine Comedy fusion to even more expansive ranges than before, while drummer Darren Allison and Hannon continued overseeing and co-producing everything, again demonstrating their careful collective ear for the proceedings. Hannon's lyrical music fires on all cylinders as well, from the cockeyed vision of romance in "The Frog Princess" (with more than one low-key French reference in both lyrics and sweeping music) to the wickedly funny and elegant "Songs of Love," detailing how boys and girls seem to be in heat everywhere while all the songwriters are stuck alone writing the title objects in question. In the meantime, there are great one-off moments scattered throughout Casanova. For instance, Hannon's impersonation of a modern dandy as fortune teller at the start of "Middle-Class Heroes" is to die for. He also does one of the best Barry White takeoffs yet recorded in the mid-song break of "Charge," packed with Tennyson references and army commands amid swirling strings and an increasingly loud beat. After topping that off with "Theme from Casanova," a slightly tongue-in-cheek number detailing all the basic credits and inspiration for the album, the result is a massive project that hits the jackpot with smiles all around. © Ned Raggett /TiVo

Alternative & Indie - Released February 10, 1997 | Divine Comedy Records

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Following the success of Casanova, Neil Hannon decided to indulge his Scott Walker fetish by recording a lush, symphonic mini-album with a 30-piece orchestra. Released to coincide with Valentine's Day, A Short Album About Love is, if anything, an even better record than Casanova, simply because Hannon holds nothing back. These are grandiose, extravagant songs that work because of their very pretensions. His deep, baritone croon has never sounded more affecting, and his songs are easily among his best, making A Short Album About Love much more than a record for hardcore fans. Several months later, a re-release of the album added four bonus tracks. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo

Alternative & Indie - Released August 16, 1993 | Divine Comedy Records

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Jettisoning the rest of the band but keeping the name, Neil Hannon as the Divine Comedy becomes as art pop as it gets with his first full album, but with an extreme Englishness that even Ray Davies might be hard-pressed to keep up with. Liberation is mostly a self-composed and performed release, aside from a couple of string players, a French horn performer, and a drummer, plus a song lyric borrowed from Wordsworth, giving "Lucy" a crisp, gentle rock recasting here. Otherwise it's Hannon's hyper-elegant show all the way, practically begging to be equally played in a Victorian drawing room, at a swank '20s club, at a swinging beautiful people party in London, or at an end-of-the-century Britpop disco. Slightly more rock/poppy tunes like "Bernice Bobs Her Hair" groove along with MOR backing vocals and understated energy, while others pile on the artsy touches: the harpsichord underlying the entirety of "Death of a Supernaturalist" and the mournful string arrangement that provides all of the music on "Timewatching." A few songs rock in a more straightforward manner, but often only just so: "I Was Born Yesterday" interrupts its persistent pounding with a spoken word break referring to ballerinas and standing en pointe while a cello plays; the acoustic guitar-based "Victoria Falls" has a fragile, frosty feeling to it. Hannon, meanwhile, belies his Northern Ireland upbringing to an astounding degree with his clipped, toff singing style. As for subject matter, Hannon tackles everything from borrowing "Your Daddy's Car" to the jaunty, XTC-inspired "The Pop Star's Fear of the Pollen Count," slipping in as much wry humor as he does gentle pathos and reflection -- plenty of all three. "Europop" is particularly sharp -- a self-descriptive new wave synth-plus-guitar dance tune with rather lugubrious vocals from Hannon, reflecting on everything from science and finance to the strange nature of love. © Ned Raggett /TiVo

Alternative & Indie - Released August 31, 1998 | Divine Comedy Records

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The songs on Fin de Siècle, though pleasant, don't quite scale the heights Neil Hannon has before: nothing is as arresting as A Short Album About Love's "In Pursuit of Happiness," though "Commuter Love," the grandiose, wind-swept "The Certainty of Chance," and especially the rainy-day funeral song "Life on Earth" make attempts, as does the song that jumps out at you the most, in line with Hannon's past work, "Sweden." Its '60s-movie oom-pah pomp and bombast that introduces each verse is fabulous. But otherwise, Hannon's done better. More unfortunate, Jon Jacobs' engineering seems fine, but his mix is convoluted, muted, as if Hannon's wry voice and the various lugubrious blends of sounds Jobi Talbot scores -- of woodwinds, brass, strings, guitar, and timpani-like drums -- were all trapped in a sandwich bag, fighting to get out where ears are. Where such mellifluous tones should tickle, tease, dazzle, and sometimes outright startle, outside of those yelping parts of "Sweden," it's all a little muffled. Still, it's hard to stop laughing at Hannon's suit-wearing, minor send-up of the storied English gentleman, like a man who is a playboy jet-setter but also affects uptight, fastidious manners. And there's still much to swing on here. Talbot is a fabulously imaginative arranger -- surely the LP's biggest saving grace -- and Hannon's songs thus seem to spiral toward dramatic conclusion no matter what. Best of all, Fin de Siècle largely diminishes the Scott Walker whispers that have shadowed his every move, if not actually erasing them. In the end, Hannon is the one you want at your party, sitting at an end table, smoking, drinking your most expensive booze, slyly winking at the ladies, and sizing up the crowd like an international spy. Give the man his due, style is his middle name. You can bet he's got unbelievable chat-up lines. © Jack Rabid /TiVo
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Pop - Released March 29, 2004 | Rhino

With Absent Friends, Neil Hannon returns to the glorious whimsical form of his crooning pop masterpieces. While Regeneration seemed mired in murkiness and awkwardly styled angry tunes, and some wondered if Hannon would recover from sacking his bandmates, Absent Friends sees Hannon blending the finest themes of his previous albums into a gorgeous, mature tapestry of musical adventures. Longtime associate Jobi Talbot lends his usual magic and Regeneration producer Nigel Godrich stays on as mixer, allowing Hannon to expertly man the production boards himself. Album closer "Charmed Life," which marries twinkling pianos with airy orchestration and a thoroughly jolly sense of self-discovery, is perhaps most indicative of Hannon's rediscovered optimism. The song perfectly blends the light, literary style of Promenade and Liberation, but with the added crunch and bombast of Hannon's West End-leaning Casanova and Fin de Siècle. "Sticks & Stones" also traverses Casanova territory, while "Come Home Billy Bird," "Absent Friends," and "The Happy Goth" all feel like souped-up versions of Promenade and Liberation tunes. "Come Home Billy Bird" seems like the mature artist's version of "Bernice Bobs Her Hair." Where Hannon sang of schoolgirl pettiness on the latter, he moves onto the problems business travel causes family life on the former. Thus, Hannon has found a way to mix semi-autobiographical subject matter with the witty pop melodies that are his bread and butter. As always, it's Hannon's superb wit and impeccable sense of timing that allow him to mingle delicate and simultaneously revelatory turns of phrase for maximum emotional and musical effect. Who else could pull off a touching yet hilarious song like "The Happy Goth," where Hannon sings of lonely yet happy young lady "who wears Doc Martens and a heavy cross"? It is perhaps "Our Mutual Friend" that really drives home the confidence and sublime nature of Hannon's songwriting and execution at this stage of his career. Hannon had mined the orchestral strings and minimalism of composer and associate Michael Nyman in the past, but "Our Mutual Friend" is his finest stab at merging Nyman-like strings and rhythm with devastating, dramatic vocals. Singing of infidelity and the damage it causes, Hannon sounds absolutely floored. In an interview with Kitty Empire talking of his aspirations going into the album's recording, Hannon claimed he simply wanted to create a beautiful album, one that "sounds gorgeous on [his] stereo, with a roaring fire and a glass of sherry and a Labrador at [his] feet." With the thrilling and poignant Absent Friends, he has more than succeeded. It ranks high among his finest albums. © Tim DiGravina /TiVo
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Pop - Released March 12, 2001 | Rhino

Pop - Released September 2, 2016 | Divine Comedy Records

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The follow-up to 2010's fun but frivolous Bang Goes the Knighthood, Foreverland continues to follow Neil Hannon's descent into happiness, offering up an amiable 12-track set that manages to locate the semi-sweet spot between treacly and savory. Hannon wastes little time in doling out the confectionaries, lampooning his fame and stature on the winking "Napoleon Complex," a jocular bit of chamber pop fluff that provides a nice litmus test for what's to come. Hannon's pure pop acumen has always helped to temper some of his flightier tendencies, and that knack for taming preciousness with melodic might lends a nice charge to Foreverland's first single, "Catherine the Great." A thinly veiled love letter to his significant other, Irish singer/songwriter Cathy Davey, it's a classic Hannon production, delivering whimsy and wit via a three-minute, self-described "silly love song" that's presented in the guise of a droll Russian history lecture -- the charming Davey herself appears on the Gershwin-esque duet "Funny Peculiar." Hannon, ever the self-deprecating gadfly, does his best to try and inject some conflict into his current state of bliss on the propulsive, manchild eviscerating -- and occasionally cringe-inducing -- "How Can You Leave Me Here on My Own," but the warmth that radiates from fearlessly tender gems like "My Happy Place" and "The One That Loves You" suggests otherwise. There's no mistaking Foreverland for anything other than the work of an artist who has chosen to give up his fight with the not-so-cruel-after-all mistress that is contentment. © James Christopher Monger /TiVo
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Pop - Released August 31, 1998 | Divine Comedy Records

The songs on Fin de Siècle, though pleasant, don't quite scale the heights Neil Hannon has before: nothing is as arresting as A Short Album About Love's "In Pursuit of Happiness," though "Commuter Love," the grandiose, wind-swept "The Certainty of Chance," and especially the rainy-day funeral song "Life on Earth" make attempts, as does the song that jumps out at you the most, in line with Hannon's past work, "Sweden." Its '60s-movie oom-pah pomp and bombast that introduces each verse is fabulous. But otherwise, Hannon's done better. More unfortunate, Jon Jacobs' engineering seems fine, but his mix is convoluted, muted, as if Hannon's wry voice and the various lugubrious blends of sounds Jobi Talbot scores -- of woodwinds, brass, strings, guitar, and timpani-like drums -- were all trapped in a sandwich bag, fighting to get out where ears are. Where such mellifluous tones should tickle, tease, dazzle, and sometimes outright startle, outside of those yelping parts of "Sweden," it's all a little muffled. Still, it's hard to stop laughing at Hannon's suit-wearing, minor send-up of the storied English gentleman, like a man who is a playboy jet-setter but also affects uptight, fastidious manners. And there's still much to swing on here. Talbot is a fabulously imaginative arranger -- surely the LP's biggest saving grace -- and Hannon's songs thus seem to spiral toward dramatic conclusion no matter what. Best of all, Fin de Siècle largely diminishes the Scott Walker whispers that have shadowed his every move, if not actually erasing them. In the end, Hannon is the one you want at your party, sitting at an end table, smoking, drinking your most expensive booze, slyly winking at the ladies, and sizing up the crowd like an international spy. Give the man his due, style is his middle name. You can bet he's got unbelievable chat-up lines. © Jack Rabid /TiVo

Alternative & Indie - Released May 31, 2010 | Divine Comedy Records

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Neil Hannon's tenth full-length album under the Divine Comedy banner finds the jovial tunesmith expounding on the elegant, aristocratic chamber pop that has become his forte since the project’s inception over two decades ago. The lighter, more orchestral tone that began with 2004’s glorious Absent Friends is in full effect on Bang Goes the Knighthood, a breezy 12-song concoction of witticisms and laments populated with the usual assortment of hopeless romantics, ballers, and gadflys and clueless upper-class youth. Hannon’s fetish for Scott Walker/Burt Bacharach/Oscar Wilde-isms comes full circle on the theatrical opener, “Down in the Streets Below”; the jaunty “Neapolitan Girl” skips effortlessly through the city on a foundation of Serge Gainsbourg strings; and “The Lost Art of Conversation” celebrates the great orators of politics, philosophy, and literature with one of the more effortless piano-driven Beatlesque melodies that the artist has crafted to date. Not very powerful stuff, but Hannon's built a career on being the tipsy and outgoing though secretly lonesome partygoer on the veranda with the best jokes, and while the whole affair can feel a bit slight, it’s certainly never dull. Cheers. © James Christopher Monger /TiVo

Indie Pop - Released June 7, 2019 | Divine Comedy Records

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Before creating the famous crop-duster chase scene in his North by Northwest masterpiece, Alfred Hitchcock wondered how he could subvert rather than avoid the clichés commonly associated with this kind of scene. Listening to Office Politics, it seems Neil Hannon had the same interrogations for his socially engaged songs about the labour market. Lightyears from a “proletarian song decrying in the most literal sense possible the infamy caused by capitalistic productivism”, the mind behind The Divine Comedy abundantly uses humour, or – and this has been his trademark since Liberation in 1993 – a sharp pop lyricism (the Jacques Brel-esque crescendo in When the Working Day Is Gone), sometimes written as a bittersweet chronicle (Norman and Norma and its harrowing chorus contrasting with its naive verses).Sarcastic humour is ever present throughout Office Politics and takes on different forms. Hannon enjoys playing with the dichotomy between light-hearted music and lyrics denouncing the blatant yet unashamed injustices of our times (Queuejumper). He also dabbles in caricature: the ominous “spy movie” atmosphere on Office Politics, as well as the emphatic references to westerns (guitars) and film noirs (saxophone, conga and harmonica orchestra) in You’ll Never Work in This Town Again. Not going as far as parody, the album is filled with references and homages to various composers and musical trends such as Philip Glass and Steve Reich’s minimalism in Philip and Steve’s Furniture Removal Company, German experimental electro (in the disconcerting diptych Psychological Evaluation and The Synthesiser Service Center Super Summer Sale), and many others (Kurt Weil, Sakamoto, Moroder, etc.). These excessive citations end up generating such distance that one can rightfully wonder whether it helps or hampers the album’s discernible intent. Is it just a sneer or a genuine critique? This is a typical Hannonian paradox. This maddening blend of references and musical colours turn The Divine Comedy’s twelfth album into a rather joyful and playful hotchpotch. But it also makes it somewhat frightening because of how chaotic, absurd, and even (purposefully) incoherent it may − deep down − appear. Just like the world in 2019 then? © Nicolas Magenham/Qobuz
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Pop - Released March 28, 1994 | Divine Comedy Records

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Rock - Released June 19, 2006 | Parlophone UK

To say that any Divine Comedy album feels overly calculated is somewhat pointless, given that Neil Hannon's cheeky musical alter ego is a nostalgic figure caught in a 1930s time warp to begin with. It's all about affection, as it were. But Victory for the Comic Muse is almost mathematical in its calculation: open with a jaunty number to get the audience excited; slow it down for four consecutive reflective ballads to suggest maturity; split the album in half with a throwaway piano instrumental like an old movie intermission; inject some life into the proceedings with four sprightly, comic selections; and close with a tearjerker. Such a structure means the album feels like two separate entities, almost like two EP collections jammed together representing two distinctly different phases of Hannon's career. As such, its highlights are more satisfying on their own than in the context of an LP. The ELO-like opener, "To Die a Virgin," seems to be another stab at "Generation Sex" territory, right down to its Fellini-esque opening samples. The slower numbers that follow are pleasant enough, with some alternately witty and touching lyrics, but Hannon's voice is so subdued as to be positively inoffensive and his back-to-basics production is weak. The second half starts with some welcome drive, as Hannon tackles the Associates song "Party Fears Two" with whimsical aplomb. "Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World" presents the early Hannon eye twinkle and is reminiscent of previous creations like "Bernice Bobs Her Hair." Here Hannon suggests he needs a TV investigation just to understand his girlfriend. Yes, Victory for the Comic Muse has its funny moments, its sad asides, and some of the now standard Nyman minimalist moments, but in the Divine Comedy's overall discography it's a rather slight and often flat affair with unfortunate suggestions that Hannon might have milked the comic cow dry. © Tim DiGravina /TiVo
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Pop - Released August 30, 1999 | Divine Comedy Records

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Pop - Released August 16, 1993 | Divine Comedy Records

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Rock - Released March 12, 2001 | Parlophone UK

Just when you start to take a "Yeah, OK, old news, whatever" attitude about Neil Hannon, he hits you with his most accomplished work yet, reminding you of the impressive, inexhaustible depth of his abilities as a singer, writer, and arranger. With a huge assist from fantastically warm, sensual production by Radiohead's engineer, Nigel Godrich, Regeneration is the most ambitious baroque-pop LP Hannon's attempted outside of 1997's A Short Album About Love. And while that one-off was nearly, almost wonderfully overwhelmed by the orchestra he hired for the two London Shepherd's Bush Empire evenings it came from, here those same elements are ever-present but take a supporting role instead of the lead. What's emphasized instead are the things Hannon does so damn well: intelligently-constructed, highly evolved and involved pop with excellent lyrics, led by his deft piano touches and moody bass and guitar -- the music that best frames his unabashed crooning. Actually, on most of this LP he's a little bit more restrained than normal, cooing more than the man who wailed so melodramatically on the cultured old standbys that made his name (like "The Frog Princess"). Occasionally he still cuts loose, such as the sudden, belted swell on "Perfect Lovesong." But most of the time, he lets the spellbinding soundtrack and the beguiling radiance set up his more reasoned, strong vocal takes. Meanwhile, Godrich flushes absolutely all the absorbing elegance, splendor, and color out of such luxurious, twinkling, candle-lit enchantresses as the LP standout, "Note to Self," and the "Exit Music (For a Film)" and "No Surprises" (Godrich again) flavor of "Lost Property." And how about those crystal, hummable melodies that abound, like the stupendous soaring chorus of "Eye of the Needle" and the U.K. single, "Love What You Do?" Each song gives you something resplendent, refined, memorable and, most of all, opulent and lovely. This is bound to turn some jaded heads. © Jack Rabid /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 26, 2004 | Parlophone UK

With Absent Friends, Neil Hannon returns to the glorious whimsical form of his crooning pop masterpieces. While Regeneration seemed mired in murkiness and awkwardly styled angry tunes, and some wondered if Hannon would recover from sacking his bandmates, Absent Friends sees Hannon blending the finest themes of his previous albums into a gorgeous, mature tapestry of musical adventures. Longtime associate Jobi Talbot lends his usual magic and Regeneration producer Nigel Godrich stays on as mixer, allowing Hannon to expertly man the production boards himself. Album closer "Charmed Life," which marries twinkling pianos with airy orchestration and a thoroughly jolly sense of self-discovery, is perhaps most indicative of Hannon's rediscovered optimism. The song perfectly blends the light, literary style of Promenade and Liberation, but with the added crunch and bombast of Hannon's West End-leaning Casanova and Fin de Siècle. "Sticks & Stones" also traverses Casanova territory, while "Come Home Billy Bird," "Absent Friends," and "The Happy Goth" all feel like souped-up versions of Promenade and Liberation tunes. "Come Home Billy Bird" seems like the mature artist's version of "Bernice Bobs Her Hair." Where Hannon sang of schoolgirl pettiness on the latter, he moves onto the problems business travel causes family life on the former. Thus, Hannon has found a way to mix semi-autobiographical subject matter with the witty pop melodies that are his bread and butter. As always, it's Hannon's superb wit and impeccable sense of timing that allow him to mingle delicate and simultaneously revelatory turns of phrase for maximum emotional and musical effect. Who else could pull off a touching yet hilarious song like "The Happy Goth," where Hannon sings of lonely yet happy young lady "who wears Doc Martens and a heavy cross"? It is perhaps "Our Mutual Friend" that really drives home the confidence and sublime nature of Hannon's songwriting and execution at this stage of his career. Hannon had mined the orchestral strings and minimalism of composer and associate Michael Nyman in the past, but "Our Mutual Friend" is his finest stab at merging Nyman-like strings and rhythm with devastating, dramatic vocals. Singing of infidelity and the damage it causes, Hannon sounds absolutely floored. In an interview with Kitty Empire talking of his aspirations going into the album's recording, Hannon claimed he simply wanted to create a beautiful album, one that "sounds gorgeous on [his] stereo, with a roaring fire and a glass of sherry and a Labrador at [his] feet." With the thrilling and poignant Absent Friends, he has more than succeeded. It ranks high among his finest albums. © Tim DiGravina /TiVo
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Pop - Released June 19, 2006 | Parlophone UK

To say that any Divine Comedy album feels overly calculated is somewhat pointless, given that Neil Hannon's cheeky musical alter ego is a nostalgic figure caught in a 1930s time warp to begin with. It's all about affection, as it were. But Victory for the Comic Muse is almost mathematical in its calculation: open with a jaunty number to get the audience excited; slow it down for four consecutive reflective ballads to suggest maturity; split the album in half with a throwaway piano instrumental like an old movie intermission; inject some life into the proceedings with four sprightly, comic selections; and close with a tearjerker. Such a structure means the album feels like two separate entities, almost like two EP collections jammed together representing two distinctly different phases of Hannon's career. As such, its highlights are more satisfying on their own than in the context of an LP. The ELO-like opener, "To Die a Virgin," seems to be another stab at "Generation Sex" territory, right down to its Fellini-esque opening samples. The slower numbers that follow are pleasant enough, with some alternately witty and touching lyrics, but Hannon's voice is so subdued as to be positively inoffensive and his back-to-basics production is weak. The second half starts with some welcome drive, as Hannon tackles the Associates song "Party Fears Two" with whimsical aplomb. "Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World" presents the early Hannon eye twinkle and is reminiscent of previous creations like "Bernice Bobs Her Hair." Here Hannon suggests he needs a TV investigation just to understand his girlfriend. Yes, Victory for the Comic Muse has its funny moments, its sad asides, and some of the now standard Nyman minimalist moments, but in the Divine Comedy's overall discography it's a rather slight and often flat affair with unfortunate suggestions that Hannon might have milked the comic cow dry. © Tim DiGravina /TiVo
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Pop - Released September 2, 2016 | Divine Comedy Records

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The follow-up to 2010's fun but frivolous Bang Goes the Knighthood, Foreverland continues to follow Neil Hannon's descent into happiness, offering up an amiable 12-track set that manages to locate the semi-sweet spot between treacly and savory. Hannon wastes little time in doling out the confectionaries, lampooning his fame and stature on the winking "Napoleon Complex," a jocular bit of chamber pop fluff that provides a nice litmus test for what's to come. Hannon's pure pop acumen has always helped to temper some of his flightier tendencies, and that knack for taming preciousness with melodic might lends a nice charge to Foreverland's first single, "Catherine the Great." A thinly veiled love letter to his significant other, Irish singer/songwriter Cathy Davey, it's a classic Hannon production, delivering whimsy and wit via a three-minute, self-described "silly love song" that's presented in the guise of a droll Russian history lecture -- the charming Davey herself appears on the Gershwin-esque duet "Funny Peculiar." Hannon, ever the self-deprecating gadfly, does his best to try and inject some conflict into his current state of bliss on the propulsive, manchild eviscerating -- and occasionally cringe-inducing -- "How Can You Leave Me Here on My Own," but the warmth that radiates from fearlessly tender gems like "My Happy Place" and "The One That Loves You" suggests otherwise. There's no mistaking Foreverland for anything other than the work of an artist who has chosen to give up his fight with the not-so-cruel-after-all mistress that is contentment. © James Christopher Monger /TiVo