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March 31, 2004

Return to Form

Okay, I've fallen completely head-over-heels in love again.

The new Divine Comedy album 'Absent Friends' is just marvellous. It's the musical embodiment of the catharsis you feel after a really good cry at, say a romantic comedy or Finding Nemo. The feeling that after all that sorrow there is joy after all - the first shiver-inducing sunshine after seemingly-inexorable rain.

Gone is the need to be overly political.

Gone is the desire to be taken seriously.

Gone is the wish to sound like Radiohead.

Instead there is a joyous, slightly silly album with a faintly dark side. It's like his first albums 'Liberation' or 'Promenade', only with a production budget. Perhaps with some 'Casanova' and 'Short Album About Love' thrown in.

It's a homely record, at ease with itself. Confident in its own slightly skewed world-view. At times it feels like Bonzo Dog when they were being musical rather than 'wacky'.

And it also contains two of the best sets of deliberately bad rhymes I've come across in ages.

Imaginary Friend
Daddy drives the mobile lib-ra-ry. [beep beep]
He works pe-ri-pa-tetically

and of course the future winner of the award for best use of a Star Wars reference:

Happy Goth
Well, her clothes are blacker than the blackest cloth
And her face is whiter than the snows of Hoth
She wears Doctor Martens and a heavy cross
But on the inside - she's a happy goth

A grower worth giving the time to germinate.

Good work Neil.

Posted by Tom Dolan at March 31, 2004 01:04 PM

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I'm glad to hear a favourable review as I was worried that Neil Hannon was forever lost in Radio 2 Land since the blandly m.o.r. Gin-Soaked Boy. I'm a huge fan of Promenade and although it's refreshing that he's moved on with his sound, you always hope he'll come back with something that'll match the power and concept of that album. Thanks for the tip!

Posted by: Alasdair Dickson at March 31, 2004 08:16 PM

I think it's definitely surpassed the unpopular Regeneration (although I really liked Regen), and is almost back to his best. I'm just disappointed I'm not around when Neil's at the Palladium - it's been far too long since I saw them at Brixton Academy.

Posted by: Gary at April 6, 2004 08:44 PM

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