Mojo (Publisher) - Ranked #50 in Mojo's 'The 50 Best Albums of 2016' -- "Album 11's effervescent orchestral pop brocades ear-pleasing songs, pensive heartache lurking within witty cabaret inconsequence."
Clash (magazine) - "Hannon's music as The Divine Comedy has drawn a small but adoring audience over the years, pairing grandiose string arrangements with classic pop licks to often majestic effect."
Personnel: Neil Hannon (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, banjo, mandolin, zither, harmonica, piano, keyboards, percussion, background vocals); Celine Saout (harp); Ian Watson (accordion); Andrew Skeet (piano); Simon Little (bass guitar); Tim Weller (drums); Rob Farrer (percussion).
Audio Mixer: Jake Jackson .
Recording information: AIR Studios; Master Chord Studios; The National Concert Hall, Dublin.
Photographer: Raphaël Neal.
The follow-up to 2010's fun but frivolous Bang Goes the Knighthood, Foreverland continues to follow Neil Hannon's descent into happiness, offering up an amiable 12-track set that manages to locate the semi-sweet spot between treacly and savory. Hannon wastes little time in doling out the confectionaries, lampooning his fame and stature on the winking "Napoleon Complex," a jocular bit of chamber pop fluff that provides a nice litmus test for what's to come. Hannon's pure pop acumen has always helped to temper some of his flightier tendencies, and that knack for taming preciousness with melodic might lends a nice charge to Foreverland's first single, "Catherine the Great." A thinly veiled love letter to his significant other, Irish singer/songwriter Cathy Davey, it's a classic Hannon production, delivering whimsy and wit via a three-minute, self-described "silly love song" that's presented in the guise of a droll Russian history lecture -- the charming Davey herself appears on the Gershwin-esque duet "Funny Peculiar." Hannon, ever the self-deprecating gadfly, does his best to try and inject some conflict into his current state of bliss on the propulsive, manchild eviscerating -- and occasionally cringe-inducing -- "How Can You Leave Me Here on My Own," but the warmth that radiates from fearlessly tender gems like "My Happy Place" and "The One That Loves You" suggests otherwise. There's no mistaking Foreverland for anything other than the work of an artist who has chosen to give up his fight with the not-so-cruel-after-all mistress that is contentment. ~ James Christopher Monger