8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Shaken But Not Stirred,
This review is from: Bang Goes The Knighthood (Audio CD)
Neil Hannon is a clever man. Of this there can be little doubt.
He has been making clever and ofttimes staggeringly good music
for the greater part of two decades after all. I have loved
a good deal of it (what's not to love?!) but something about his
new TDC release 'Bang Goes The Knighthood' leaves me quite cold.
The album is essentially a bunch of show songs without a show
to belong to. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with that of
course if each song is able to stand up on its own two feet but
(and it's a BIG but!) Mr Hannon approaches his material with
such cool emotional detachment that I find it hard to discern
the true, beating heart of the music. The melodies display a
confident grasp of a wide range of compositional genres;
the words, erudite, literary and often very witty, gush out of
him like water from a faucet but still I was left unmoved.
There would appear to be a loose concept of sorts binding the
project together. The artwork hints at a strong affection for
the sixties, as do a few of the numbers (notably the perfectly
pleasant 'Neapolitan Girl' and the craftily constructed
'Down In The Street Below'); his grasp of the darker side of
thirties cabaret is competently realised in title track 'Bang Goes
The Nighthood' and his respect for both Broadway and the English
music hall tradition are well evinced in 'The Big Banker',
'Assume The Perpendicular' and 'Can You Stand On One Leg' but
after a while Mr Hannon's deconstructionist magpie approach to
composition begins to wear a bit thin and I felt myself longing
for just a little more warmth and a little less intellectual rigor.
Curiously I found it late in the day in the beautiful song
'When A Man Cries'. (Listening to it I was reminded of some
of Peter Hammill's great existentialist anthems of the late
sixties and early seventies!) The stunningly simple arrangement
and sharply focussed vocal performance are truly exemplary.
One of Mr Hannon's finest creations by a mile! This glimpse
of the sublime appears a little too late in the day however.
Final track 'I Like' is a simply horrible invention.
'Bang Goes The Knighthood' is an album to admire but not to love.