Timewatching: The Divine Comedy Album-by-album thread

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by LivingForever, Nov 5, 2020.

  1. jon-senior

    jon-senior Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eastleigh
    Given how thoroughly he's disowned Too Young To Die, it seems an odd choice to write sequel for the new collection. Maybe it'll grow on me.
     
  2. Radiophonic_

    Radiophonic_ Electrosonic

    Location:
    Royal Oak MI
    I've only listened to it a couple times, but I'm not sure there's that much there to change one's mind on further listens. Hope springs eternal though...

    And let's face it, how often is the "extra track so the completists buy the album" a real classic?
     
  3. The Booklover

    The Booklover Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    Fair enough, but I'd also like to know how you rate today's song. ;)
     
  4. Linky53

    Linky53 Forum Resident

    Location:
    North Yorkshire UK
    The Best Mistakes

    Only a couple of listens so far. I like the video and the songs OK...ish. These bonus tracks on best of albums are seldom worthy of their place and this probably fits into that category. I suspect Neil wanted to write something to go on there that says how he feels about his career so far. It feels kind of forced on there, but pleased it’s more a return to a familiar sound.
    Unfair to score it this early but overall positive and nice to get something new.
     
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  5. The Turning Year

    The Turning Year Lowering average scores since 2021

    Location:
    London, UK
    This combined with the fact that Neil's singles for the last 20 years have been (for me!) the worst song from each album, and that the credits beneath the video said something about his personal archive didn't fill me with hope that I would like it much!
    But then it's not really aimed at those of us who like the 'weirder' stuff and it is nice to have something new, so I don't really want to be a party pooper ;)
     
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  6. a paul

    a paul Forum Resident

    Location:
    London
    Divine Comedy Ltd
    It's fine. It doesn't really grab me too much though. 3/5

    Best Mistakes

    One and a half listens so far (the half was to see if the video was interesting, but didn't seem to be). Not sure about the lyrics - Too Young To Die esque as mentioned, plus mixed with Charmed Life about how his current life is good... I think. I've not paid too much attention though! And the music is a bit in your face. Will try again later/tomorrow. It is kinda catchy though I guess.
     
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  7. The Booklover

    The Booklover Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    Thanks for the recommendations! I guess I'll have to check out all of them. From the genres listed, I'm into prog rock and prefer the Beatles' psychedelia phase, so I'll start there. From the term, I'd have thought that symphonic rock wouldn't be my cup of tea, but I do like "Mr Blue Sky". I've got nothing against disco either. After all, I like the disco version of "Napoleon Complex" as much as the other ones, and Voulez-Vous is my favourite ABBA album. Incidentally, I always thought that Daft Punk nicked their album title Discovery from the Pet Shop Boys concert video of the same name, but it seems they had already stolen it from ELO. Or did someone else even use it before Jeff Lynne?
    I love synths as well, unless they sound too kitsch.
     
  8. The Booklover

    The Booklover Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    First impressions on The Best Mistakes after three listens:

    I could do without the self-centered lyrics (and Neil posing in front of other incarnations of him), but thankfully the music isn't in the vein of "Too Young To Die". The start reminds me of the Absent Friends era, and the chorus has a 60s Eurovision Song Contest feel. I like its catchiness and the handclaps but wish the guitar were a bit louder. Also, the vocals are quite tame/subdued. The weakest link is the middle eight (musically and lyrically), but overall it's a pleasant song. It sounds very safe coming after Office Politics (which is fine for a greatest hits album), but like others I hope this track and the new compilation will clear the way for another weird and experimental album.
     
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  9. The Booklover

    The Booklover Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    Sorry, this should have read "in track 9" of course.
     
  10. Hazey John II

    Hazey John II The lyrics are fine, there's no problem there

    The Divine Comedy Ltd: tons of fun, would have been happy to see it open the album, and it makes Queuejumper lift off as well. Maybe needs a chorus or a bit of Neil in it somewhere. Don't know Public Service Broadcasting, seems plausible Neil may have ditched this because of that, but it also has strong echoes of OMD's Genetic Engineering (which I learned just now has an awesome video). 3.5/5

    Will let The Best Mistakes settle in a bit (in brief, I like it), but I can't believe it's been 2.5 hrs and nobody's posted about the Fin de Siècle-era track listing at 2:02 in the video. What the heck is going on here? (Ts are ticks)
    1. Judd's Paradox
    2. Commuter Love T
    3. National Express T
    4. Life on Earth
    5. Thrill-Seeker T
    6. Maryland Electric R'storm
    7. Eric The Gardener T
    8. Last Stand in Metro-land T
    9. Sweden (I Would Like...) T
    10. Postcard To Rosie
    11. Jazzmaster
    12. Sunrise
    13. I Will Find You (London Irish) T
    14. The Righteous Judges
    15. Overstrand T
    16. Up (for Ant + Dec)
    17. Ninety Nine
    18.
    19.
    20.
     
  11. Vagabone

    Vagabone Forum Resident

    Location:
    Leeds, UK
    The chorus of "The Best Mistakes" makes me feel like I'm hearing a new ABBA track. Again. With similar mixed feelings.
     
  12. christian42

    christian42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lund, Sweden
    The Best Mistakes

    Will this be the first track that everyone agrees on? Because I too was a bit underwhelmed. It’s got some good bits, but the chorus feels a bit generic and those string staccatos get annoying quickly. I do not Not Like it, but I can already tell that it won’t develop into a total favourite.
     
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  13. The Booklover

    The Booklover Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    Which is no wonder, since several tracks from Public Service Broadcasting are heavily inspired by OMD. I also think that he didn't put it on the album, because it sounds too much like Public Service Broadcasting (I'm hesitating to use the acronym PSB, since that will always be reserved for Pet Shop Boys). Sure, it's not that he hasn't done pastiches of other styles before, but usually these included his own vocals to make it recognisable as TDC.

    Ha, the first thing my daughter said was, "The chorus could be sung by Frida and Agnetha".
     
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  14. christian42

    christian42 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lund, Sweden
    Well, that’s good then. I myself like all incarnations of the band, though if I had to, I’d probably put the synth phase first - not the popular choice - and the early phase last.

    As for the Discovery album, there’s always the pun in the title. Not sure if PSB had that intention when they selected that name.
     
  15. The Booklover

    The Booklover Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    I'm pretty sure they did: it followed their Very album and two Disco albums.
     
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  16. LivingForever

    LivingForever Forum Arachibutyrophobic Thread Starter

    Oh yeah!

    The Divine Comedy Limited

    Well, as a fan of Public Service Broadcasting, I like it! Only, it really really does sound like he is trying to make a track that sounds like PSB. And I don’t think he is *quite* as good as Mr.Willgoose at matching the samples with interesting music and getting the balance right.

    It’s probably a 3.5 from me.
     
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  17. LivingForever

    LivingForever Forum Arachibutyrophobic Thread Starter

    The Best Mistakes

    Where shall we start?

    I quite liked the start of this song, with the strings and Neil’s voice, but then some really annoying percussion sounds (like fake rimshot / tambourine) came in and put me off the rest of the verse. In fact; are there any real drums on much of this song? There’s not a lot that sounds like it. Frankly this could be a Neil home demo at this point.

    The chorus - hmm. People are likening it to Abba, but it would need about 75% more melody to sound anything anywhere close to Abba (I mean, proper Abba, not whatever that new album is!) - and the handclaps at the end of the chorus are just pure cheese. And I like cheese, but… nah.

    The middle eight - hey, at least there is one eh, @Hazey John II ? ;) (even if it’s unmemorable)

    The lyrics - ugh. At least he’s not singing about writing a song, that’s the only way they could be more annoying to me. “Oh, I’ve done this and that and been quite a character, but I’m alright now with my cosy life…” - you don’t catch The Rolling Stones writing songs about having done a bit of drugs here and there, but telling us not to worry now because they’ve got into yoga.

    Also… “I’m not an Angel.. but then again I’m no fake” is going straight into my top 10 least favourite lyrics of Neil Hannon list.

    I’ve given it 4 listens now, but I don’t think I’m honestly going to get anything more out of it with more plays- I was already humming the chorus 20 minutes after the first play, it’s about as deep as the Baltic Sea (oooh, a reference to earlier in the thread, I’m nearly as clever as Neil’s lyrics for this song!)

    If you told me that this was written for Neil by one of those songwriter-for-hire types because he was out of inspiration, I would believe you. I honestly think that if this song was on one of the boxset bonus discs we’d be giving it a 3 and saying it was quite good and maybe he could have made it into something if he’d carried on working on it.

    But as the lead single for a new collection? :crazy:

    OBVIOUSLY on the DC Central Facebook group they’re all ecstatic, moved to tears, and so on. Which just goes to show me that I am completely adrift with what a lot of people seem to want from Neil. But as long as he keeps chucking me a “Count Grassi” or a “Philip and Steve” every so often I’ll tolerate the “Diva Lady”s and the “Norman and Norma”s.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2021
  18. LivingForever

    LivingForever Forum Arachibutyrophobic Thread Starter

    Sample Facebook post:

    “Well he has only gone and done it again what a fantastic song , brilliant lyrics as always and in many ways they are fit for my life and many others I guess”
     
  19. A Tea-Loving Dave

    A Tea-Loving Dave Forum Resident

    Location:
    Northumberland, UK
    This is a track that I originally overlooked somewhat on first listening to the album, but it has grown on me a bit more on repeat listening over the last two years or so. It helps that I have a definite penchant for melodrama and big, bombastic sounds.... and also that I have a fair bit of anger and discontent bubbling away under my placid surface at the current direction of this country :p although on the latter point, I shall say no more!

    3.5/5

    Whereas this is one which definitely has grown on me - initially I didn't much like it at all, but now I think it is another of the real highlights of the album.... the soundscape of the track, both in the vocal and instrumental segments (although let's be honest, the vocal segment is merely the use of the human voice *as* an instrument here) sweeps over me when I listen to the track and just sounds *right* somehow. It's not at all what one would call your typical Divine Comedy track, but at the same time it really couldn't be anything *other* than a Divine Comedt track!

    4.5/5

    Put much better, and much more succinctly, than I was able to!

    Conversely, this is one that has still never quite grabbed me, although I really don't quite know why. It's certainly nowhere near the worst track on the album, and it isn't bad in the slightest, it just feels a bit insubstantial and jarring after the track that precedes it.

    3/5

    Another one I really like, and in this case one which I've liked "from the off" - I'm not sure whether I prefer the album version to the demo version, or vice versa, as they both have definite strengths.... but at this particular moment in time, the album version possibly scrapes ahead purely on the basis I am more familiar with it. The lyrics and music go well together, and I reckon that had this track been followed by "Norman and Norma", people would probably be a lot more kindly-disposed to said track given the thematic similarities which are present in some ways; the little people chugging along and living their best lives after all the cut-throat businessmen and high-fliers have gone the way of Icarus and burned up in the heat and light of the sun.

    4.5/5

    It's a great track, but I think the album had the right closing track as it is - the ideal in my opinion would be ending the album Lord Mayor > Norman > Working Day, so that we first have a slow, gentle track about the "little people" doing the important but unglamorous tasks that they have in front of them, as noted above, then focus specifically on two of these people, and then end with a more energetic, anthemic hymn to the working man.

    It would work fantastically there, you're right!

    You may jest, and this isn't Walker per se, but in reading your comment I suddenly had a moment where I distinctly heard "Wichita Linesman" in my head!

    As I alluded in my remarks to @TheLemmingFace above, I really like this one and think it is a great way to close the album - an orchestral anthem to the working man which washes around you, building up as the track goes on; it does end with a bit of a damp squib, as noted already, but I like the track enough that this doesn't really detract too much from the whole in my opinion.

    I suspect my various comments in this post will be painting me as a little bit of a mildly angry working-class leftie :p

    4.5/5

    And there's no bad thing in that, methinks :p

    I really like that idea, to be honest - plus I imagine a good number of us (beyond those who already have) will want to chip in with alternative tracklistings for Office Politics once we've thought the matter over a bit more!

    ---

    Thoughts on the new track to follow, by the by :)
     
  20. LivingForever

    LivingForever Forum Arachibutyrophobic Thread Starter

    That probably describes a few of us here, to be honest! :D
     
  21. jon-senior

    jon-senior Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eastleigh
    The Best Mistakes

    Well, it's not getting any better the next day. Truth be told, it's not a terrible song, but it's a long way off his best. I think it's hampered by two things. First, it's following Office Politics, his most experimental album, with something very bland. Second, it's clearly custom written to take a spot on the career retrospective. And I can see the logic in both those things - it'll probably pick up some minor Radio 2 play, and that'll help promote Charmed Life in a way that Infernal Machines Part 2 clearly wouldn't do, and I can also understand the temptation to try and tie together quite a disparate collection of material by writing this as a kind of overview. But, as a track in it's own right, there's nothing here to really latch on to. The melody is pleasant enough, but nothing special, the words are too self-referential to really get behind, and even the production feels a bit flat - the strings are a bit obvious, and even the backing vocals sound like they could do with a few more overdubs. It has the feel of a Foreveland-era home demo (perhaps if he'd had the available technology at the time, an Absent Friends-era one). Still, never mind - I'm sure there'll be some more interesting stuff on disc 3, and I'm sure the next album, whatever he does with it, will be more ambitious. I imagine this one will get some play on the early dates of the spring tour, before dropping out of the setlist and becoming an obscurity.

    2/5
     
  22. The Turning Year

    The Turning Year Lowering average scores since 2021

    Location:
    London, UK
    I suspect a few of us feel this way! It's nice that lots of people like it. Maybe we should all join that Facebook group and go nutty about future experimental songs...;)
    I've often read Neil described as being very consistent, but having just finished going through Office Politics, having recently listened to In May, and then coming to The Best Mistakes I can't think of many other artists who's output is more all over the place!
    I suppose he's consistent for me in that his albums generally contain something interesting, and everything seems well-thought through/well-crafted even if I don't like all of it. But he does seem to bounce from the intellectual, experimental stuff to the Diva Lady stuff like a ping pong ball.
    Agreed! Goodness, what a line... I loved reading your sort of gently scathing review of the song :laugh:
    On the song's subject matter, it just feels far too obvious. I think something like Home covers the same sort of ground but in a lovely, subtle way that evokes a sense of nostalgia and also says something about now rather than just stating it.
     
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  23. Vagabone

    Vagabone Forum Resident

    Location:
    Leeds, UK
    I feel much the same way. Saint Etienne have slightly disappointed me before with their albums, but I always bought them anyway (in the case of Home Counties I did wait till it was discounted) and always found at least two or three songs I really liked on each. I don't understand what they're going for with this one, but it's not for me.

    How did you manage to see all that? Anyway, I doubt that "track listing" is the right word. My guess is that it's a list of songs he was working on at the time and the ticks ("checks" for US people, I guess) are to signal that the song is finished to his satisfaction. Very nice to see though.

    The Best Mistakes


    Generally I dislike the video because it emphasises the self-referential "retrospective" nature of the song which is what I most dislike about it. WIthout the visuals it;s easier to ignore the lyrics and focus on the music, which I quite like. I still maintain the chorus is an ABBA through and through. It's no work or art but there's somethign about the tune, both verse and chorus, that gets under the skin.

    I was one of the defenders of "Too Young To Die" that several people have mentioned. I don't hear much similarity in the music. Obviously, they're both songs that are exclusive to greatest hitses, and they're both "looking back" songs, but the tone is quite different. The one is quite regretful about the past, the other fond.

    I agree with this.


    Personally, I can kind of see that a facebook fan page isn't necessarily the best place to post adverse criticism. But then I'm very selective about what I use Facebook for anyway. To me it's mostly about keeping in touch with people I'm friends with in real life. I know for some people it's their one stop shop for All Of The Internet.

    Someone was asking if there's ever been a classic song that's come out of these "new song for the greatest hits" arrangements. (Or did I imagine it?) Anyway, Paul Simon's "Slip Slidin' Away" comes to mind. There's also the aforementioned ABBA's "The Day Before You Came" but that was written for an abandoned album so maybe it doesn't count.

    3/5
     
  24. The Turning Year

    The Turning Year Lowering average scores since 2021

    Location:
    London, UK
    The Best Mistakes
    Listening to it without the video helps to get past the very self-referential nature of it a little bit, but I'm not very keen on it. If it is a bit loke ABBA, well maybe that explains it as I don't especially like what I've heard of their music. It's inoffensive, but I wouldn't choose to listen to it.
    As @jon-senior said it has the feel of a demo about it to me, and feels a bit flat, particularly the middle eight part which just has the rhythmic strings (that rhythm reminds me of the beginning of Swallows and Amazons).
    The chorus was stuck in my head after one listen, so it is definitely catchy.
    Current impression
    1/5

    :hurlleft: well it is a fan page I suppose, so people are there to gush rather than share their critical feedback :D
    In the YouTube comments, someone was moved to tears by it. That's very sweet, but...

    Edit:
    Oops... :hide:
     
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  25. drykid

    drykid Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hereford, UK
    Have only listened to The Best Mistakes once so far. Not sure what to think really. I'm not against self-referential per se, and I probably rate "Too Young To Die" higher than anyone else on here but it just seems like he's trying a bit too hard here. I don't think specificity is a good thing with a song like this; it's one thing to say you've made mistakes but it's another thing to start listing them one by one. There's an almost Kevin Rowland like approach he's taken with the kind of soul-baring on display here, but Rowland is one of a kind and I'm not sure many others can get away with what he does (Rowland doesn't get away with it half the time himself, for that matter...) There's an instrumental bit in the middle that seems to borrow the synth riff from Queen's "One Vision" - intentional? The song is about Neil's single-mindedness after all. That's about all I can think of right now.. Oh, nice candelabras!
     
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