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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nine albums in... and he just gets better and better
I can only concur with the previous reviews. This is arguably Mr Hannon's best album. The lushness of the previous album remains, but the pop sparkle and most of all, the wit, of Cassanova, returns. I would disagree that this is not immediately accessible. If the definition of a single was that it had to be melodically strong, hummable and have a smart lyric, then 7 of...
Published on 16 May 2006 by Mart

versus
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One for the hardcore fans
Not that the DC have anyone "hardcore".

I love it but if I was looking to get into the DC I would suggest Casanova or even Bang Goes the Knighthood.

Listen the others fisrt then move on to this one. Die a Virgin and a Happy Goth are superb though.
Published on 14 Dec 2010 by Puffinsnotreal


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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nine albums in... and he just gets better and better, 16 May 2006
I can only concur with the previous reviews. This is arguably Mr Hannon's best album. The lushness of the previous album remains, but the pop sparkle and most of all, the wit, of Cassanova, returns. I would disagree that this is not immediately accessible. If the definition of a single was that it had to be melodically strong, hummable and have a smart lyric, then 7 of the 11 tracks here could be singles. The first 3/4 of the album (minus the piano instrumental "Threesome") are pure pop - the highlights being the hilariously painful "To Die A Virgin", Hannon's prettiest song to date "The Light Of Day" and the Associates' cover which gallops along thrillingly. Only during the closing 3 songs does Neil Hannon indulge in something a little more left-field - providing a very dramatic mini-symphony to close the album in style. The final track, "Snowball In Negative" is a beautiful piece of music and probably the finest song about fag ash ever (the only song about fag ash? Oh, don't nit-pick). Despite his clear influences, Neil Hannon really has calved out his own trademark style - memorable songs peppered with poignancy, panache, wit, dazzling musicianship and a little daring too. He's challenging you to call him a "smart arse". But you'd be wrong. He's a highly talented singer songwriter who, nine albums in, really seems to have reached new heights. Rejoice! On the basis of so many great albums, Neil Hannon clearly will make great music for the rest of his life. Don't even hesitate - Buy it!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Not-So Comic Victory, 8 Sep 2006
Whilst Hannon has always had a penchant for comic parodies of often ridiculed social groups, as reflected in earlier tracks such as "Woman of the World" and "National Express", what stand out in this album are the heart-rending tracks "Lady of A Certain Age", "The Light of Day" and "The Plough".

True, musically they are perhaps not the best tracks on the album - but the themes simply jump out and grab you.

A soul-searing, tear-jerkingly sublime offering from the Divine Comedy, that will delight fans and newcomers alike - So good that it prompted me to write my first, and probably only, Amazon review!
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Encapsulation of all that is right about The Divine Comedy, 5 May 2006
By 
D. Thomson (Glasgow, Scotland, UK) - See all my reviews
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I managed to get an advanced listen to the new album by Mr Hannon and i must say this, for me, is his best work yet. The album is not immedately as accessible as some of his other work but, give this one a few listens and you will be reminded of how talented this artist is and how unique the sound of his music has become.

It is evident that Hannon still knows how to compose a catchy pop tune. 'Diva Lady', the first single from the album is not as strong as some past single efforts but does leave it's mark. Given a listen or two, one will be hard-pushed to forget the catchy riff. Personally though, the pop masterpiece that is 'To Die a Virgin' is simply wonderfull and i hope this follows 'Diva Lady' onto the pop charts.

Possibly my favourite track on the album is 'Lady of a Certain Age' which forms an account of the desperate situation which befalls many an 'upper class' female with nothing but 'a chequebook and family tree' to bargain with in her latter years. The melody and arrangements on this tune are sublime and reflective of the album as a whole. Hannon has become one of the foremost arrangers of the modern music scene and this is highlighted in this album.

I would highly recommend this album to any fan of the band as they will no doubt adore it and also to those who simply wish to listen to something that bit different. This is a great example of an artist demonstrating what they do best. A fabulous aural journey from start to finish
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Longer A Divine Comedy Vigin., 29 Jun 2006
By 
F. Khalastchy (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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The Divine Comedy is one of those artists that I always enjoyed listening to on the radio but never intrigued me enough to spend my hard-earned cash on an album. However, there was something about the current single, Diva Lady, that finally prompted me to take the plunge and boy, am I pleased I did!

The first two thirds of the album are largely Divine Comedy standard fare; excellently-written pop songs that tell whimsical stories. Stand out tracks from this part of the album are To Die A Virgin, Lady Of A Certain Age and Arthur C Clarke's Mysterious World. The only track that didn't work for me was the cover of The Associates' Party Fears Two. I felt it lacked the urgency of the original and who could equal Billy Mackenzie's incredible vocal performance?

The final third of the album is, to be frank, extraordinary! The Plough, Count Grassi and Snowball in Negative sound like they come from a Jacques Brel-esque operetta. They are sophisicated, complicated and above all, quite beautiful. These three songs stay with you long after the CD has finished revolving.

Overall, there is something for everyone on Victory For The Comic Muse. I shall now be investing in The Divine Comedy's back catalogue!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Musical genius again!!, 19 July 2006
Yet again another truley fantastic album from one of the best song writers in the last decade. The musical arrangements flow very naturally and the songs contain a good healthy balance of musical structure, wit and orchestral content to keep every fan happy for another few years until the next album. If you liked any of the previous 3 - 4 albums then every penny you spend on this album will make it worth the while.

Neil is a true musical maestro and yet again has exceeded his own high expectations and produced what i think will become an all time classic album.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amusing, moving, and beautiful..., 23 Jun 2006
There are those who think The Divine Comedy are no more, that the mediocre popular success (if one could call it that) of "Regeneration" and "Absent Friends", despite both albums containing songs of real quality and beauty, killed off an act that is too readily written off as mere musical slap-and-tickle. These people should immediately sit and listen to "Victory...", and discover that Neil Hannon is in fact better than ever. With echoes of 1994's "Promenade" album in terms of its musical soundscapes and vivid contrasts between songs and subject matter, this latest album from Enniskillen's finest stands up to repeated listening time and time again. Opener 'To Die a Virgin' is a standout track - strings purr a glorious, melodic hook over a downright funky, ELO-inspired guitar and bass, while Hannon recreates the sexual frustration of a teenager without being gratuitous. The album glides through the country stylings of 'Mother Dear' through to the single 'Diva Lady' - witty, observant, nicely crafted and not, as has been claimed, misogynistic in the least. However as a choice for a lead single this song may not have been the most appropriate. The next track, 'A Lady of a Certain Age', has already entranced Divine Comedy fans, and I believe that one would be hard-pressed to find someone who did not enjoy this track. The melody, the lyrics, the arrangement all fit together perfectly. 'Light of Day' is perhaps the closest this album comes to "the usual", musically speaking, as a charming ballad with a poignant side and an anthemic chorus. After the brief instrumental 'Threesome' comes the album's only cover, 'Party Fears Two', released originally by Associates in 1982. With a drum rhythm that will be familiar to fans of 'Tonight We Fly' from "Promenade", the song drives along at pace and is a fresh interpretation of a largely forgotten song. One could question Hannon for including a cover on the album, however, as many would argue that they would prefer to hear more of his own output - especially if it is as brilliant as 'Arthur C Clarke's Mysterious World'. Mariachi trumpets, handclaps, and a shiny happy feel that's impossible to dislike - another standout track. The final triptych of songs on this album is much less accessible, but brilliant for it. 'The Plough' recalls Brel and Walker in spectacular fashion, and 'Count Grassi's Passage Over Piedmont', while eccentric, is a beautiful piece, combining spoken word with elegant vocal melodies and a gorgeous arrangement. The album's closer, 'Snowball in Negative', is just as unusual - but one cannot but be moved by its instrumental finish.

Overall, this is an album that reaffirms The Divine Comedy's status as an act that is unbowed by the demands of flitting musical trends - the very fact that this album is recorded reel-to-reel proves that this refusal to conform runs right down to the production values. Instead, Hannon's gift for lyrics and melody combine to produce eleven songs (ten, discounting the cover version) of great beauty. I have listened to this album repeatedly since I got it, and have not yet tired of it. Anyone who sees this release and dismisses it should look past the stereotype and give this album a chance. They will not fail to be seduced by its many and varied charms.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Songwriter Of His Generation, 21 Jun 2006
By 
James Roberts - See all my reviews
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Why Neil Hannon, who to all intents and purposes IS the Divine Comedy, is not universally recognised as one of Britain's greatest songwriters is beyond me. His latest opus, the magnificent 'Victory for the Comic Muse', is a distillation of everything that makes him special: winning tunes, deft orchestration and clever yet heartfelt lyrics. Listen to the devastating 'Lady of a Certain Age', the playful 'To Die A Virgin' or the exuberant 'Arthur C Clake...' and be converted. Hannon is the best we've got. Treasure him.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Victory!, 19 Jun 2006
By 
Good Wolf (South West, UK) - See all my reviews
This is a beautiful album. Neil Hannon somehow manages to keep writing the most amazing songs, and the eleven on this record are easily up there with his best ever work.

Absolute highlights include the very poppy and catchy 'To Die A Virgin', the melancholy, beautiful and heartbreaking 'Lady of a Certain Age' and the barmy and eccentric 'Count Grassi'. But to be honest, the whole album is a treat - moving from cheeky, frothy pop to epic, grand music at the drop of a hat.

The fact that this is easily up there with The Divine Comedy's best albums is a tribute to the seemingly endless talent of Neil Hannon. This is a real return to the brilliant sound of his first few albums (while still bringing plenty of new stuff to the table), and isn't as over-produced as his two most recent LPs, lending it an immediate feel all of its own - you could almost be in the room with the musicians while they play. If you've never heard any Divine Comedy before, take a punt on this and enjoy something that's totally unique. Nobody else makes music like this, so it should be treasured.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It takes a few listens to fully appreciate, but it's worth it!, 6 Aug 2006
Being a fan of The Divine Comedy since they released Casanova in 1996, I was really looking forward to their latest album. Much like a lot of previous releases by The DC, this album takes a few listens to fully appreciate it. When I first listened to it, I was disappointed with most of the early tracks and didn't listen beyond track 7. However, repeated listens have definitely added a great deal to my enjoyment of this collection. Track-by-track:

1. To Die A Virgin - Amusing lyrics, but the melody doesn't do anything for me. Opinion seems to be very divided on most of the tracks here, this being no exception. It sounds a bit flat to me.

2. Mother Dear - An unusual country track with a catchy melody, but a far too repetitive chorus. Musically it's great, but the constant repetition of "Mother Dear" quickly becomes tiresome.

3. Diva Lady - Not bad, but hardly the strongest of melodies penned by Neil Hannon. Annoyingly it sticks in your head - I'd rather it didn't!

4. A Lady Of A Certain Age - Beautiful melodies, wonderful instrumentation, and moving lyrics. I've always liked Hannon's voice, but this is the kind of track his singing is best suited to. Stunning.

5. The Light Of Day - A bright, upbeat melody, again with some beautiful instrumentation - strings and harpsichord really add to the classical rock style that the DC have always done so well.

6. Threesome - A charming 1 minute piano instrumental that provides a good break in the middle of the album.

7. Party Fears Two - I disagree with an earlier review calling The Plough pompous; if any track sounds pompous, it is this one. I haven't heard the original but the strings are overdone for a riff that isn't all that special. The chorus is better than the verse, but this just sounds out of place here.

8. Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World - This one's quite odd. I didn't expect to like it at all but it really grows on you. Great lyrics, a very enjoyable melody and plenty of decoration around the various melodies. Very well composed indeed.

9. The Plough - As I mentioned earlier, I couldn't disagree more with the notion that this track sounds pompous. It's an absolute masterpiece. A wonderful build-up in each verse and throughout the track. A similar feel to The Certainty of Chance or Freedom Road, this is one of the best tracks I have ever heard from the DC.

10. Count Grassi's Passage Over Piedmont - The opening melody links well from The Plough. Great melodies throughout, an unusual mix of spoken/sung lyrics, not dissimilar to The Booklovers - but much easier to hear more than a few times over. Very special, and unique!

11. Snowball In Negative - Yet again, the orchestral arrangements are superb. Interesting contrast between the vocal sections and the piano solos, showing that Threesome wasn't such an anomaly after all. The ending is a little unexpected and slightly drawn out, but this track wraps up the album well.

Apart from the first few tracks, this is possibly the best DC album I've ever heard. It's right up there with Promenade and Fin De Siecle and is a welcome reminder that Hannon is highly unlikely to lose his touch anytime soon. Beautiful!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Simply Divine, 17 Jan 2008
By 
Kevin Clarke "kevin17566" (Birmingham UK) - See all my reviews
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I love The Divine Comedy. I love the fact that they're posh, clever, effete - all the things you're not supposed to be in the grubby world of rock 'n' roll. Unafraid to use a phrase like "bourgeois malaise", Neil Hannon may occasionally come across like Little Lord Fauntleroy but reahlly daahling, who would you rather be stuck in a lift with, him or The Hoosiers?

'Victory For The Comic Muse' is another superb collection of arch, literate pop but this time with an added ingredient - heart. 'A Lady Of A Certain Age' is typical of this new-found empathy. In a series of beautiful, rhyming couplets, Hannon paints a devastating portrait of a privileged life crushed by failure and disappointment: poignant, anguished and dripping with pathos, it's Hannon's masterpiece.

The album opens with a cheeky steal from 'The Camomile Lawn', with two bright young things discussing losing their virginity, before Hannon unfolds his funny tale of a frustrated adolescent trying to pop his cherry - "You don't know how much I need you/ The Handy Andy's I've been through....."

'Diva Lady' is a spot-on pop at certain stars, their preposterous demands and vacuous posing. On 'The Light Of Day' Hannon's swaps his trademark irony for something simple, direct and affecting - and it works a treat.
'Arthur C.Clarke's Mysterious World' and 'Mother Dear' are smart, spritely pop songs, zinging with hooks and humour.

18 years in and Mr.Hannon's 'comic muse' shows no sign of deserting him.
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