Rating:

4/5

Verdict:

Father Ted composer in another guise

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The amusing Divine Comedy - with Neil Hannon as the sole constant the past two decades - effect a kind of elegantly literary and often droll, social commentary style, which often comes with orchestration, or sounds like it has stepped out of a cabaret or music hall.

They require, and reward, careful attention because the details are in Hannon's frequently satirical lyrics. Here, on

The Complete Banker

the central character suggests the current recession could be a blessing, "we can build a much bigger bubble next time". And

At the Indie Disco

he takes a sympathetic look at uncertain teenagers in a club which has a Morrissey poster on the wall "and then we hit the floor for

Tainted Love

".

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The title track - a well-respected man frequenting S&M sessions - finds Hannon playing cabaret-noir piano; on

Have You Ever Been in Love

you could imagine Noel Coward doing a soft-shoe shuffle; and on

The Lost Art of Conversation

he offers starting points like

The English Patient or Joan of Arc

.

It isn't all cool whimsy:

When a Man Cries

("he cries alone and just for a moment he's back at home, cradled in his mother's arms") is aching and empathetic.

The Divine Comedy make music for and about adult concerns, but sometimes find the child - silliness or innocence - inside.

-TimeOut /