The Divine Comedy Waves the Flag for Eclectic Pop on ‘Charmed Life: The Best Of’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Photo credit: Kevin Westenberg

It’s not hyperbole to say The Devine Comedy (aka Neil Hannon) is hard to categorize. Clearly many musicians are loathe to admit their music could possibly sound like any other band in history. In some cases, they bristle at the even being categorized to a specific genre. That being said, The Divine Comedy is truly hard to categorize.

After three decades of releasing music, Hannon is finally offering up a best of set – a robust 24 tracks spread across two CD or two vinyl LPs. There is also limited edition three-CD set that includes a “Super Extra Bonus Album” boasting new and unreleased songs. Though the Irish musician may not exactly be a household name in the U.S., the quirky cult singer has managed to influence a slew of similarly diverse musicians like Sondre Lerche and Badly Drawn Boy throughout his career. 

The collection includes most of the fan favorites like “Something For The Weekend” and “Becoming More Like Alfie” (both off his most well-known album, 1996’s Casanova), as well as more recent songs like “To The Rescue” and “Norman Norma”.  The set also includes a new song, “The Best Mistakes,” a fantastic chamber pop track that manages to upstage many of the decades old favorites here.

The music is decidedly British, much like Morrissey before him, which is part of the appeal. The sound comes about authentically for the Irish Hannon. It’s no surprise he was behind the theme songs for popular British TV shows like Father Ted and the IT Crowd over the years. Appropriately enough, he’s even writing original songs for the Timothée Chalamet Wonka movie coming out next year.

The greatest hits album not only takes its name from the song off of 2004’s Absent Friends, (included in this collection as the opening track) but is a sentiment Hannon readily admits to in describing his own life. “I’ve been luckier than most,” he said. “I get to sing songs to people for a living and they almost always applaud. So, when asked what to call this collection I thought of Charmed Life. I like the song and it rather sums up how I feel about my life.”

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