We live in interesting times. Pop-Opera blokeys The Divine Comedy being produced by Nigel ‘Radiohead‘ Godrich? He’s going to make them all depressed! He’s going to lose their all-important ‘Joie de Vivre’ and turn their songs into rambling, formless bastard-children! Run for the hills!
Which makes it even sweeter when they’re not. In fact, if anything, Godrich can only make the canvas this band paints on more expressive – like giving an already gifted artist a new colour to work with. Although this colour often seems to be a murky brown, this isn’t a colour you would often associate with Neil Hannon and his cohorts. This is ‘regeneration’.
Formless bastards they are, with echoed vocals and atmospherics. All is not pop in Hannon’s head no more, baby, and he’s here to sing about it too, as the Plath-esque Note To Self scares us into submission – “What the fuck is happening? Where has everybody gone? What the hell is going on? There is nothing as frightening as being alone.” Its not exactly Something For The Weekend but when they can afford to omit this most poptastic of numbers, you can feel the self-conviction outweighing the self-doubt.
However, Hannon is truly majestic when he leaves all the gubbins behind for an acoustic solo of The Frog Princess and The National Express, with the crowd leading the bap-bap-baa’s out of devotion rather than necessity. And when the final electric song segues into Wham‘s Last Christmas, things do seem like they are getting truly absurd. But then who cares? It’s not even Christmas – which really does make this Divine Comedy.