The Divine Comedy: Charmed Life review – the Poet Laureate of Pop Music collected

More than just a condensed version of 30 years of Neil Hannon’s work

Charmed Life - The Best of The Divine Comedy
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Artist: The Divine Comedy
Genre: Pop
Label: DCR

Describing Neil Hannon Neil Hannon as the Poet Laureate of Pop Music isn't as much an exaggeration as you might think. His songwriting connects classic styles (from Burt Bacharach/Hal David to Scott Walker) with neo-classical arrangements (Michael Nyma), while his lyrics invoke natural, poignant, and witty/wise storytelling as delivered by PG Wodehouse (as well as other literary figures such as F Scott Fitzgerald, Anton Chekov and William Wordsworth).

During the initial lockdowns in 2020, Hannon celebrated his creative outlet’s 30th anniversary with Venus, Cupid, Folly, and Time, a 24-disc box set that wrapped up his output in a velvet cravat and a silk cummerbund.

Charmed Life is the core but no less pleasurable and less hefty financial option. The two-disc version features 23 songs we know and love, from National Express, At the Indie Disco and A Lady of a Certain Age to Your Daddy’s Car, Absent Friends and the none more Hannonesque new tune, The Best Mistakes). The three-disc version (wryly named Super Extra Bonus) features 11 new and unreleased songs, including a new version of Perfect Lovesong.

The attractively designed package (as is usual with Divine Comedy’s sophisticated work ethic) and its contents, however, amount to more than just a condensed overview of Neil Hannon’s work: it also provides a valid reason for calling him the Poet Laureate of Pop Music. No arguments.