The Divine Comedy – Foreverland (Album Review)

The Divine Comedy – Foreverland (Album Review)


Just into the first song of the new album of The Divine Comedy and anyone familiar with the prolific sonic expedition of the Northern Irish band would say that it has really mastered both the complicated and commercial sensibilities of Baroque Pop music, glazed with the modern quirkiness of Britpop. Formed in 1989, in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, The Divine Comedy has eleven studio albums under their name, from 1990’s Fanfare for the Comic Muse to this year’s Foreverland.

Released back on September 2, 2016 via DC Records, The Divine Comedy’s newly released eleventh album begins with the upbeat, festive mood of the full-on orchestral “Napoleon Complex” and then followed by the classic Baroque Pop sound of the title-track and “Catherine the Great,” both of which will fit a playlist that includes The Left Banke’s “Walk Away, Renée,” The 5th Dimension’s “Stoned Soul Picnic,” The Walker Brothers’ “First Love Never Dies,” Paul McCartney & Wings’ “Uncle Albert,” Liverpool Express’s “John, George, Ringo & Paul,” and Beulah’s “If We Can Land a Man on the Moon Surely I Can Win Your Heart.” Then there is the Vaudeville playfulness of “Funny Peculiar,” which evokes a similar mood as B.J. Thomas’ “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” and David Bowie’s “Little Bombardier.”

Still in the same rustic nostalgia trip, the Waltz-themed “The Pact” stands out with its beautiful string and woodwind arrangement. “To the Rescue” may be regarded as the album’s highlight, for it captures the trademark orchestral and lyrical excursion of Neil Hannon, The Divine Comedy’s leader and originator. “How Can You Leave Me on My Own?” changes the mood, taking the listener to a ’60s-inspired dance floor full of mini-skirted girls and slick-haired lads dancing wildly and wholesomely at the same time. The initiated may recall similar sonic styling employed by Belle and Sebastian in the Scottish band’s latest album.

The slow, melodic ballads “I Joined the Foreign Legion (To Forget)” and “My Happy Place” both carry pensive, yet hopeful sentiments. The ensuing “A Desperate Man” returns the listener to the dance floor, but this time the theme is a blend of exotic, Tribal, Samba, and Arabic belly-dance music. This will be apt to play alongside the likes of The Glove’s “Relax,” The Creatures’ “Standing There,” and Vampire Weekend’s “Oxford Comma.” Finally, the short, partially a-cappella “Other People” preludes the album closer, the bluesy and folky “The One Who Loves You,” which sounds like a dead ringer of The Waterboys’ “The Nearest Thing to Hip.”

Twenty-five years on and the orchestral mooning of The Divine Comedy remains as indulgent and intricate as ever. Certainly, Foreverland is not just something for the weekend, nor an album that will get one only through a long and sleepless night; rather, it is another victory for the comic muse behind the melodramatic sage whom is none other than Hannon, with his ensemble of fellow meticulous musicians. Now, bang goes the fanfare! CrypticRock gives Foreverland 5 out of 5 stars.


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aLfie vera mella
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Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature. In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music. aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He started writing album reviews for Cryptic Rock in 2015. In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf?; in 2021, his first book of poetry, Pag-íhip sa Dáhon ng Kahápon [Blowing Leaves of Yesterday]. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. aLfie is a dedicated father to his now 13-year-old son, Evawwen; and a loving husband to Kathryn Mella, who herself moonlights also as a writer aside from holding a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Major in Sociology.

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