Looking at some of these reviews, there's a lot of people who appear to take this musician and his records a little too seriously for their own good. The whole point of the Divine Comedy was about reflecting on the entwined pathos and humour that is life, but not to linger unhealthily to the extent of wallowing in navel-gazing! Sure, the classical arrangements can be complex and are clearly part of what sets Neil Hannon's music apart from the everyday. So are the clever,occasionally linguistically challenging and tongue-twisting lyrics, so much so that Hannon increasingly has a hard time remembering them on the night (witness the recent solo Somerset House concert, which he still managed to sail through, thanks to ad-libbing and terrific rapport with the audience). That's not going to get any easier, but it's his own fault for being drawn to the whimsical and literary...
Because of the aforementioned complexity (particularly evident on earlier albums, where Hannon was honing his craft)it might not occur to some reviewers that on tracks like 'The Complete Banker', he was actually angry and wanted to make a statement as blunt and crass as the behaviour of his lampoon targets - so the music hall crudeness is apposite. While 'At the Indie Disco' was intended as nothing more or less than a fond and simple nostalgia trip for people of a certain age (not an attempt to be snide at anyone). Again, reviewers with a humour bypass are always going to miss the fun and frolic projected by tracks like 'Assume the Perpendicular', 'The Lost Art of Conversation', 'I Like', 'Island Life' and 'Can You Stand Upon One Leg?' (He is allowed a track dedicated to his little daughter, no?!). Equally, it is a rare talent that can match such a jaunty upbeat melody as 'Neapolitan Girl' with such dark humour. But the light gives contrast to the dark, so we can appreciate the more serious songs - compare 'Have You Ever Been in Love?' with 'When a Man Cries'.
I don't think Hannon has pretensions to be Scott Walker or anyone else really, but like other leading songwriters he has the ability to interpret many styles and just wants to be free to evolve his music as he sees fit. There is clearly a possible future in film scoring (anything is possible if you can pull off a co-penned tribute to er, Cricket).
In the meantime, just be happy with a little ripple of humour laced with decent tunes, to accompany these dark times. The world needs more Hannons!