Neil Hannon: 30 Years of the Divine Comedy

Neil Hannon: 30 Years of the Divine Comedy

This is a fantastic little insight into the career and personality behind the music of 'The Divine Comedy', penned and presented by the man himself: Neil Hannon.

Having recently filled in the gaps of their discography and listened to all their albums, I can safely say 'The Divine Comedy' are one of those bands that continue to deliver. Neil Hannon has managed to constantly develop and grow as an artist whilst still keeping a recognisable style and flare that is unmistakeably him - a quality I find impressive and endearing.

In this tour of his "mind palace", Hannon manages to be concise but still communicate allot about his influences, feelings and intentions behind the music. Usually, one may expect a piece written by an artist about their own work to skip over the mishaps, but Hannon is refreshingly open about all his work (especially when talking of his feelings of disconnect towards the album 'Regeneration'). That said, I don't think I've ever listened to a 'Divine Comedy' album and not (at the very least) enjoyed it.

Hannon's fantastic sense of humour is also present throughout the documentary, but underneath it all is still the sense that this man is just incredibly good at what he does. As in his albums, even the fun tracks aren't just "comedy songs", they're seriously good pieces of music that are incredibly constructed, performed and executed by Hannon and his band.

I've read allot of reviews of 'Divine Comedy' albums, and most seem to want to separate the 'fun' tracks from the 'serious' tracks, as if there are two separate albums on every 'Divine Comedy' release. This is not only incredibly wearing but just plain silly. The whole point (for me anyway) is that all these facets can exist in the same place, as they do in people. In the documentary Hannon comments: "Human frailty interests me, especially my own". And what better way to show our common frailty than with the most common defence mechanism of all: our sense of humour.

Before watching this lovely little documentary though, I would just recommend for you to give this music a go. 'Casanova' (1996), though not the first 'Divine Comedy' release, seems to me to be a great starting point for anyone wanting to get into their discography. Their latest album released in 2019, 'Office Politics', is perhaps my personal favourite of theirs. It is yet another album where Hannon experiments, charms and ultimately whisks you away into his world.

In a nutshell, Hannon has created 12 'Divine Comedy' albums - each full of humour, escapism, brooding darkness, Wildesque wit, observation, personality and exceptional musicianship that will continue to inspire and entertain those that listen to (and hopefully enjoy) it for years to come.

It's 30 years on from that first release... and here's hoping to 30 years more.

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