I was first introduced to the witty, lovelorn musical stylings of Neil Hannon and The Divine Comedy back in early 1997. The band had recently made something fo a breakthrough in the UK charts with several singles from their 1996 album Casanova and another track from that album, ‘Stories of Love’ was a ubiqitous theme tune for Channel 4’s successful slice of Irish absurdism ‘Father Ted‘.
Following quickly on the heels of Casanova was a mini concept album entitled ‘A Short Album About Love‘ – released on Valentine’s Day – on which Hannon dissected the idea of romantic love with seven, lushly orchestrated tracks which conveyed both emotional conviction and a sense of detached, self-aware amusement. Not an easy trick to pull off.
Anyway, I fell in love with the album after borrowing it from a close friend. We were at that strange period between the end of our teens and entering our 20’s, confused and as lovelorn as ever looking for answers, secrets in songs and music compose by similarly lovelorn and sensitive young men. I had an intense crush on a girl in college at the time and i wasn’t able to bring myself to declare my feelings in fear of potential humiliation and because, I had yet to fully emerge from my cocoon of crippling adolescent shyness.
So at that point, all of the music that I was listening to communicated what I could not say to this girl and so, the album was a great comfort to me. I had also been listening to Joy Division’s Closer in that period of my life so A Short Album about Love offered a nice stylistic contrast and managed to lift me up and let me wallow in my unrequited affections.