79 Fin De Siecle by Divine Comedy 1998
I'm not sure this one is going to be everyone's cup of tea at all. Neil Hannon is exactly the kid of person that would have my dad reaching for the "too clever for his own good" like comment. Whatever he does he does to extremes. When his eyebrows are arched they are off his head, when he writes catchy songs they stick in your brain like the worst novelty hits. When he does dramatic it tends to be with full orchestra and kitchen sink arrangements. His lyrics can be amazingly smart or annoyingly throwaway. His voice can go from pub singer croon to wanna be opera and everything in between.
Fin De Siecle combines all the best and worst of Divine Comedy in one wildly ambitious state of the nation address.
Preceding Generation Sex single managed to cover the death of Princess Di, evolving sexual morality, vivisection, the red tops celebrity obsession all in a jaunty 3 min pop song. The tone is set.
What followed I think is one of those tracks that sums up why people love or hate the band. Jaunty , catchy, funny , annoying , throw away, irritating , sing along ......
This isn't the social comment of Billy Bragg , it is all a political , a social observation satire a tale of the times covering the obsession with excess , stalking , the end of the world , hacking etc. If there is an overall theme it is about not looking back and living for today but not in a naff fortune cookie or self help guide way.
The instrumentation matches the lps ambitions , every songs seems to swell to an over the top orchestral climax.
My two favourite tracks come at the end of the lp . The first taps into the whole end of the century Millennium bug feeling and the second ends the lp on a hopeful note with the Irish peace process
Sunrise - Divine Comedy
I knew that there was something wrong
But I kept my head down and carried on
You can buy Fin De Siecle here