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Bang goes the Knighthood
The Divine Comedy Bang goes the Knighthood
Released 31 May 2010
Producer Neil Hannon
Label Divine Comedy Records
Length 44:55
Genre Baroque Pop
Website www.thedivinecomedy.com

2010 marks the twentieth anniversary of The Divine Comedy’s debut album Fanfare for the Comic Muse. Since its release Neil Hannon has claimed his place as one of the more eccentric men in the music world, writing songs about his observations on the English bus service or his hay fever afflictions- producing pop magic from the most mundane of situations. Fresh from tackling the world of cricket with The Duckworth Lewis Method, Hannon returns to catalogue another of the great British icons, the English Gentleman.

Bang Goes the Knighthood plays loosely as a concept album, with the gentleman theme popping up on a number of tracks. Hannon shows us the good and the bad sides of upper class life. The idyllic side to the gentleman’s life is portrayed in 'Assume the Perpendicular' and 'The Lost Art of Conversation', songs that suggest a pure lifestyle, one that revels in trips to stately homes or bemoans the lack of human interaction, like something from a P.G. Wodehouse book.

The murkier details are where Hannon hits top form. Opening track, 'Down in the Street Below', shows the inner thoughts of an upper class man becoming disenchanted with his life, love and social circle, burdened by the guilt that he may only be remaining involved to keep the status quo. This idea is expanded upon with the title track, 'Bang Goes the Knighthood', where the protagonist has taken to frequenting seedy dens, looking to be chained up and disciplined just to feel alive. There is no regret here, merely the worry of being caught. The villain of the piece is depicted in 'The Complete Banker', a modern day Fagan, unrepentant for his role in the current recession and all too willing to screw us over again.

Away from the sordid depravity and moral ambiguity, we are faced with a more wholesome theme; that of a blossoming love. 'Have You Ever Been in Love' and 'I Like' are two songs depicting the early stages of a romance, the former listing all the effects love can have, the latter listing everything Hannon likes about his new belle (Cathy Davey if you must know). Both songs are as giddy and flighty as you expect from a new relationship but this is the man who wrote 'Songs of Love' and 'Everybody Knows (Except You)' and these latest offerings just feel too generic in comparison.

The biting satire and insightful wit in the first half of the album alone makes Bang Goes the Knighthood worth listening to. While it might not be the best album Hannon has produced as a whole, it does have enough highs to make up for the unfortunate lows.

- Brian Kinsella