I listened to this album through in its entirety three times on the first day I had it. Can't remember the last time I did that. It has a different sound to his last few albums, or indeed, any of his albums (but it probably sounds a bit more like his earlier stuff in that it's more playful, perhaps). It's more poppy than the last few, funnier, and perhaps a bit more adventurous, which is maybe due to less reliance on an orchestra. And the pictures and stories he manages to paint with his lyrics and his music are as strong here as they've ever been, if not more so. "Down in the Street Below" is simply beautiful. "Neapolitan Girl" is fast and bouncy with a dark undercurrent. "Island Life" is soaring and tranquil. It has a more coherent sound than the last Divine Comedy album, and you get the impression that Neil Hannon is simply happier these days and making the kind of music that's closest to his heart, after some quite sombre albums over the last decade.
There's one bit on the album that's bound to divide opinion, though... you'll know it the second you hear it!
One of the main feelings after listening is that there's certainly nobody else making music like this these days. It sounds entirely different to anything else, so in that respect he's carved a lovely little niche for himself. After all, what other modern artist would create a song that includes the line "Ben's impressed by the buttresses thrust up the chapel nave"? Well done, Mr. H.
I wouldn't pay much attention to the "BBC Review" that Amazon has put up, by the way, which seems to spectacularly miss the point of it all. Indie Disco isn't a "swipe" at anything - it's pretty obviously an affectionate song. It's a shame that someone with a clear dislike of Hannon's quirky style becomes the 'official' voice of Amazon's product page.