Release Date: March 2001
Running Time: 49.58
1. “Timestretched” 2:48
2. “Bad Ambassador” 3:45
3. “Perfect Lovesong” 3:10
4. “Note to Self” 5:59
5. “Lost Property” 4:39
6. “Eye of the Needle” 5:33
7. “Love What You Do” 3:52
8. “Dumb It Down” 3:56
9. “Mastermind” 5:21
10. “Regeneration” 5:33
11. “The Beauty Regime” 5:11
Well I’m back after a wee lay off. Sorry for the delay. Today’s offering is Neil Hannon’s debut album for the Parlaphone label and it sees The Divine Comedy going in a darker more traditional rock style. Gone are the brash orchestral numbers from previous albums, as are the wit of Neil’s observations from previous albums, often replaced with more sobering lyrics.
Don’t get me wrong there are still shades of the old in there, most notably in the song Bad Ambassador (see below) where Neil gets his belting voice on, however the album has a more low key feel that is at odds with what The Divine Comedy pushed at us during the glory days of Brit pop. This reinvention or “regeneration” of the band pushed them into the middle of the road indie that was being pushed so well at the time by the likes of Travis, Stereophonics and the like.
While the album is a change in direction for the band it didn’t suffer to much from it. Neil ever the consummate wordsmith manages to eloquently lambaste the effects of fashions magazines in “The Beauty Regime” (“Cover up all the pain in your life, with our new product range” and “no matter how worthless you are, and if your life depresses you, just live it through your favorite movie star.”)
In Dumb It Down he frets about the decline of Pop culture and Personal Identity spouting that intelligence has now become a virus that people need to be vaccinated against, while in “Eye of a needle” He lampoons the church going masses with the sharp words “the cars in the church yard all shiny and German, completely at odds with the theme of the sermon.” all while wondering about the silence of God.
The weakest songs are probably the first singles released. “Love what you do” which is so downbeat and melancholy that it barely scrapes by, while “Perfect Lovesong” promises a lot (A “divine Beatles bass-line and a big old beach boys sound”) which it fails to live up to.
Note to Self” provides a dark insight into Neil’s mind especially with the heartfelt roar of “What the Fuck is happening” midway through the song, and the hazards of touring on the road is spoken about in “lost property.”
“Mastermind” spells out the perils of celebrity with the stark lyrics of “every nose is a vacuum cleaner in the loved up London arena” and “you don’t need to be a mastermind to read between the long white lines”
The album while a complete departure from the grandiose nature of The Divine Comedy’s earlier works, is still a very strong and compelling album to listen to and whilst it has a few flaws and weak songs, is one I would still happily listen to. In fact it’s been a nice wee trip down nostalgia lane for me, as I can remember getting a lend of the album of a friend at the same time as a ticket for their gig at Mandella Hall in Belfast. It was the first of so far 5 times that i have seen the various incarnations of The Divine comedy live.
8 out of 10
Now lets hope the album regenerates into a changing bag and not Tom Baker…