Six years on from Bang Goes the Knighthood, nothing much seems to have changed for The Divine Comedy. Neil Hannon continues his position at the head of band, writing, composing and singing the entire deal, and the orchestral chamber pop style returns once more in full force, perhaps even more so than on previous releases. Thankfully, this continued approach hasn’t started showing its age yet; Foreverland is just as thrilling a ride as anything else they’ve done.
Foreverland remains a bouncy, upbeat experience for most of its runtime. Napoleon Complex opens the album on one of its most orchestral notes, beginning with the full accompaniment of strings and pianos before lowering into a banjo-laden slow groove with fluttering strings and Kate Bush-style female vocals chirping in for the chorus. This is a style covered across the album, with strings often highlighting songs with simpler arrangements, with their best use being on Funny Peculiar: It’s one of the album’s shortest tracks, running under three minutes long, but mixes a strumming acoustic guitar and playfully plinking piano with the paired vocals of Neil Hannon and a female companion, with the swell of strings adding emphasis to the chorus.
You’re hard pressed to find a truly unenjoyable moment on the album, but its middle section does face some slow-down; From To the Rescue to My Happy Place, the songs feature less defining points and begin to merely meld into one another. By the album’s end point, however, it makes up for it. The high energy, skittish mood of A Desperate Man changes the album’s style up nicely, and while Other People risks falling into sappy territory, it cuts itself half off with a dismissive sound from Hannon before ending on one of its nicest songs, bringing the banjo back on The One Who Loves You and ending on something akin to a beefier version of Foreverland.
It does face the risk of becoming dull for a few songs, but ultimately the cohesion of Foreverland is a positive factor rather than a detriment. The album’s finer points are perfectly crafted, and manages to top its amazing first half by the time it reaches its last three songs, making for an even more enticing package than it was when it started. Thanks to its bouncy nature and just the right amount of self-indulgence, Foreverland comes off as another stellar release from The Divine Comedy.