Neil Hannon – The Divine Comedy.
I can’t reliably recall when it was that I first listened to The Divine Comedy. Sometime back in the 90′s for sure, and likely to have been during one of my Saturday shopping trips into Shibuya or Shinjuku (Tokyo). Many enjoyable solo hours were spent wandering the floors of HMV or Tower Records, hopping from one listening station to another, and eventually I’d return to my apartment with an eclectic assortment of CDs. It is personally difficult to believe now, but I was not an immediate devotee of their clever, quirky lyrics or addictive baroque pop melodies. Perhaps they were too much of a shift to be accommodated by my tastes at the time. What matters is that throughout the ensuing years I have enjoyed many rediscoveries, and today, The Divine Comedy is unequivocally my favourite musical act. Let’s be clear, I’m actually referring to the eccentric brilliance that is Neil Hannon, often referred to as “the Noël Coward of Britpop”. He is the son of a former Northern Irish bishop, and chose the name The Divine Comedy after seeing the book on his father’s bookshelf. In my amateur opinion, Hannon is one of the finest songwriters of a generation. No suprise then that I should also be a fan of The Duckworth Lewis Method, one of Hannon’s side projects. Or that he identifies Scott Walker, another perennial favourite, as one of his influences.
Below are a selection of three Divine Comedy tracks, starting with the Wildean witticisms of “Gin Soaked Boy” followed by the indulgently sombre “Our Mutual Friend”, which broods over themes of new love, loss and betrayal – the melancholy soundtrack of my tumultuous 2009, though not necessarily in that order *winks*.
The last tune, “I Like” from 2010 album “Bang Goes The Knighthood” is dedicated to my beautiful wife Shannon.