The Divine Comedy: Venus, Cupid, Folly & Time review – 30 years of smart pop

Fri, Oct 9, 2020, 05:45


Venus, Cupid, Folly & Time – Thirty Years of The Divine Comedy

The Divine Comedy

Divine Comedy Records


Immersing yourself in the collected works of The Divine Comedy isn’t as demanding a task as you might think. Excepting the debut misfire of 1990’s mini-album Fanfare for the Comic Muse, DC head chef and bottle-washer Neil Hannon has been a one-man operation in charge of, no more and no less, highly efficient, very smart pop music.

The trilogy of Liberation (1993), Promenade (1994) and Casanova (1996) established Hannon as a pop classicist not at all shy about hiding influences (Penguin classics, minimalistic/orchestral music, French New Wave, Scott Walker’s late-1960s output). Fin de Siècle (1998), meanwhile, made him a bona fide pop star (the album’s National Express earned him his only UK Top 10 hit), a role that Hannon has never comfortably taken to.

If there is a defined second part of a justifiably celebrated career, it is when he left the Irish-run indie label Setanta for major label Parlophone/EMI, released 2001’s Regeneration, and decisively set out solo.

The Divine Comedy - National Express

The last 15 years have assuredly been Hannon’s most creatively productive, and include quality albums such as Absent Friends (2004), Bang Goes the Knighthood (2010), Foreverland (2016) and last year’s Office Politics. All of these and more (including Juvenilia, which features very early recordings) are neatly bundled and lovingly presented here.

If you’re a fan, prepare to enter Hannon heaven.