April 3, 2004

Review: The Divine Comedy's Absent Friends

So I llurrrrve the new TDC CD - got that? - the first in several years. If you don't know The Divine Comedy, "they" are really a "he" - Neil Hannon. The sound is big and emotional Scott Walkeresque orchestral pop. It's witty, unabashadly emotional and sometimes a little precious / novelty. Think Make It Easy On Yourself, if you know that Walker Brothers song.

I discovered them in England when I bought the 1995 CD Casanova on the basis of a quick blurb somewhere, the song titles and the cover art (typical of me). Luckily I struck gold. Click here and try a sample of Something For the Weekend.

The new record came out in the UK (only) on March 29. It's called Absent Friends and it's very good. Lisa and I saw him play an afternoon show in a teensy Arlington club called Iota in 2002 and having been waiting for this music (including The Happy Goth!) ever since. The first single is a sweet narrative song called Come Home Billy Bird and you can hear/see it in full at this website. You can also hear other samples at this chic French site. Try my favorite, the melodrama Our Mutual Friend, for a taste of the sweeping strings.

The record adds several great tunes to his future All My Best CD. The lyrics are very sweet, but usually with an edge, like the big denoument of Freedom Road:

Well I've seen the power of the lightning storm,
I've seen the endless ears of corn,
I've seen the lakes at the break of day,
And that shit takes my breath away

As usual, there are some tracks that induce dry heaves, but those are just a couple of lugubrious ballads and a cutesy tootsy song about imaginary friends. Please also note that hearing it on the web won't do it justice. When I finally played it on headphones, it made me all emotional. If you want a little mix, let me know!

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