The Divine Comedy – Foreverland – Album Review
Live – Dublin’s Bord Gáis Energy Theatre – February 26th 2017
Tower Records – Thursday, September 8th @ 1pm
Foreverland – Release date: 2 September 2016
“I’ve been blessed and cursed with the ability to write a catchy tune” – Neil Hannon.
The Divine Comedy return with their first album since ‘Bang Goes the Knighthood’ in 2010, which is somehow their 11th album dating back as far as his disowned album “Fanfare for the Comic Muse” in 1990 or more properly “Liberation” in 1993. This album shows a man content with his lot in life, at ease with his surroundings and deeply in love. A number of songs seemingly about his muse, Miss Cathy Davey.
There are twelve tracks on the new album and they are fairly consistent with what has gone before, with no sudden step in any specific direction. The songs are largely piano driven, but nearly every song has an orchestral element, with string sections and other arrangements. ‘Napoleon Complex’ is the opening track and is Hannon at his best. After an initial orchestral flourish it settles into a quirky pop song. They lyrics are the highlight; funny and light.
‘Who pulls the strings, who makes the deals, stands 5 foot 3 in Cuban heels’ – Napoleon Complex
The title song ‘Foreverland’ is a surprisingly downbeat number that never really lifts. ‘Catherine the Great’ is the first single off the album and is another fun pop song, with more orchestral manoeuvrings.
‘There were few brainier, just ask the king of Lithuania’ – Catherine the Great
Funny Peculiar is a duet with one Cathy Davey, which is an attempt at a Burt Bacharach number that doesn’t really work. ‘Together we’ll beat the bastards back’ is the chorus of the sweeping ‘The Pact’. ‘To The Rescue’ is another one probably about Davey, for her work in animal rescue, with one of the lines ‘Got a vigilante sleeping in my bed’. ‘How Can You Leave Me On My Own’ seems to be about the absence of his partner and how he degenerates.
‘When you leave, I become a dickhead, a bad smelling, couch dwelling dickhead’ – How Can You Leave Me On My Own
Foreign Legion is another of the highlights and probably destined to get lost at the wrong end of the album. It is a subtle evocation of another age ‘I joined the Foreign Legion to forget’. ‘Other people’ ends mid sentence with Hannon seemingly bored with his own creation, as he says ‘blah, blah, blah’. ‘The One Who Loves You’ is another chirpy song of contentment and is definitely optimistic in outlook.
The album reads as a man in a good place with his life, which doesn’t always make for the best songs. There are some great moments on it, but also some filler. He seems quite content and deeply in love, if this collection can be taken as vindication. This is not an album that is going to win over a new following, but for fans of his work, it’s a welcome return.
1. Napoleon Complex
3. Catherine The Great
4. Funny Peculiar
5. The Pact
6. To The Rescue
7. How Can You Leave Me On My Own
8. I Joined The Foreign Legion (To Forget)
9. My Happy Place
10. A Desperate Man
11. Other People
12. The One Who Loves You
Catherine The Great: