Archive for the ‘Aaron McGruder’ Category


promednade1I heard about The Divine Comedy in the beloved British magazine Q.  I used to get every issue up until about two years ago.  I enjoyed their reviews, and especially enjoyed learning about bands that were under the radar here.  I think the Divine Comedy album that was being talked about was Casanova, but I wound up getting Promenade first.  And once I did, I was hooked.

Promenade is their second album, and it is still my favorite.  It features a musical soundtrack that is similar to Michael Nyman in its electronic/repetitive structure.  Nyman’s The Piano soundtrack came out in 1993, and although Nyman had been writing scores for years, The Piano seems like a pretty close reference point to Hannon’s work.

And yet, despite the “modern” sounding style of the music, the lyrics are old school Britain at its best.  And, Neil Hannon’s voice is truly an old-school croon (it’s almost cheesy, but not quite).  But it’s the words, oh the words, that really sell the disc.

In fact, the song that sold me from the beginning was “The Booklovers,” which is just a list of authors.  Really.  But the list is punctuated with smarty pants allusions to the writers’ works and it’s all wrapped up in a catchy chorus. But that’s not all, each song references literature in some way.

“Bath” opens with an orchestral flourish as a woman, well, bathes. “Going Downhill Fast” is about racing your bike downhill, with my favorite line: “Vacuous vice!/Just once or twice/Thrice/Four times in five we forget we’re alive.” A Seafood Song” and “Geronimo” lead you to the realization that this album is about two young lovers.  First they are having lunch, and then they get caught in a torrential downpour.  “Don’t Look Down” has one of my favorite orchestral pieces as towards the end of the song, the young man on a Ferris Wheel has a discussion with a God “who really ought not to exist” as the music grows more and more tense.

“When the Lights Go Out All Over Europe” is another stellar song that contains a wonderfully building chorus.  “The Summerhouse” is a really nice ballad.  “Neptune’s Daughter” has the story taking a dark turn until the ribald delights of “A Drinking Song.”  This song in particular has been one of my favorites because it is raucous and silly and oh so clever.  It also ends with one of the great couplets in all of drinking songdom: “From the day I was born ’till the night I will die/All my lovers will be pink and elephantine.” It is soon followed by “Tonight We Fly” a propulsive song of the two lovers “flying” over their life together and flying away from everyone.

It’s truly sublime.  I can understand those who don’t like Michael Nyman’s style not really enjoying this disc.  But if you like lyrical wonderment, you must check this out.  Divine Comedy’s next disc “Casanova” removes the Nyman influence but retains the cleverness. By most accounts it is a better album but I still love Promenade.

[READ: January 2008] Public Enemy #2

Sarah bought this collection for me for Christmas last year.  I don’t read a lot of comic strips, but occasionally one pops up on my radar.  I had seen a few Boondocks comics and really liked them.  This is the 2nd to last collection of the strip (I think…some are called treasuries, so I’m not sure what the distinction is). (more…)

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