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Absent Friends - worth the wait?
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badly dressed boy



Joined: 02 Dec 2002
Posts: 10
Location: Brighton

PostPosted: Fri Apr 02, 2004 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Having listened to it a couple of times more today, the only songs I still don't like are the wreck of the beautiful and laika's theme (it appears i'm not alone with regard to the latter), also leaving today hasn't quite done it for me yet, i think i agree that it doesn't have a good enough tune.

Sticks and stones is turning into one of my faves. absolutely amazing. had it in my head all day.
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Lilypod



Joined: 22 Nov 2002
Posts: 1431

PostPosted: Fri Apr 02, 2004 9:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

David Booth wrote:
But if 'Absent friends' is really what you've been waiting for, show me the 2004 stablemate of 'Alfie', 'Frog Princess', 'Tonight we fly', 'Something for the weekend', 'Daddy's Car', 'Lucy', 'Generation Sex', 'Sweden', 'In pursuit of happiness', 'Songs of love', 'A drinking song' and even our old, old, old favourite, 'National Express'?


Well, that was one of the things I found with Regeneration, namely that I couldn't find a song on it that I'd really be hoping would get an outing at future gigs. I mean, I went to the Regen concerts and greatly enjoyed them, and if I heard some of the Regen songs at a future concert, I'd enjoy them again. But I wouldn't be wishin' and hopin' that they'd be on the setlist. Whereas with Absent Friends, there are already at least four songs that have either moved into my 'cracking tracks' category, or else my 'pet songs' list. I mean, not many people seem to like 'Life on Earth' that much over the other songs on Fin, but it was probably my favourite song on there when the dust settled after the first few listenings, and I've already found that with a couple of tracks on Absent Friends. I was listening to 'Wreck Of The Beautiful' last night and, for me, it's perfectly crafted, musically. Every note drags me under the sea. (Glug, glug, glug, and all that.)

stilton cheese wrote:
neil has a really really strong back catalogue, which leads people to under-rate him or expect too much of him. i genuinely think this is the best he could have done.


I'd agree with this. I know that I do have different standards for Divine Comedy albums, and I have to remind myself that a song that isn't amongst my favourites on a DC album would probably be the standout track for me on the album of a musician whose music I merely liked as opposed to loved. I know that I look for a certain touch in the lyrics, based on the quality of what went before, whereas with other lyricists I'm impressed if a) they manage to make sense whilst rhyming and b) they manage to avoid rhyming 'toast' with 'ghost'. With other musicians, I'm waiting for collections of songs. With Neil, I'm basically waiting for works of art and hoping that he doesn't crack under the pressure. Yes Yes
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Ben_W



Joined: 02 Apr 2004
Posts: 344
Location: Manchester

PostPosted: Fri Apr 02, 2004 10:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi all, new to the forum.

Bought Absent Friends a couple of days ago - apart from that my only DC experiences have been Regeneration which grew on me but I wouldn't call a classic, and National Express (and the other song on the single 'going downhill fast' which I now know is from an earlier album).

I loved NE and GDF - Regeneration not as much.

I do, however, think Absent Friends is superb. First listen, I found it a little dull. But I persevered throughout the evening and the following day, and of course today. AF itself is superb, one of the best tracks on the album. S&S also, but to a lesser extent. I'd read about Neil's 'sweeping orchestrations' and so on after doing a little research upon hearing about the new album (via Phil Jupitus' column in 'Radio Times'!).
The first two tracks sum this up fantastically. I don't know if they are typical of older DC stuff, but I like them. Leaving Today is growing on me, yet not one of the stand out classics on the album. I love CHBB and MIF, the latter is so amusing especially. TWOTB really grew on me. The haunting chorus is unforgettable and in my head. The best two tracks on the album are next in my opinion. OMF is absolutely class, and THG isn't that far off. I love then chorus in THG - 'Well her clothes are blacker than the blackest cloth...'
The last 3 tracks are more forgettable than the others. I don't mind Freedom Road, and Charmed Life is pretty good, but LT doesn't do that much for me. It is, however, the song I have listened to least on the album so it might grow on me if I make an effort.

I'm thinking of purchasing A Secret History as the next step - could you all tell me whether you feel it is worth paying an extra £12 for the rarities CD?

Thanks.
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Mr Nude



Joined: 21 Nov 2002
Posts: 2205
Location: Skank Town

PostPosted: Fri Apr 02, 2004 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ben_W wrote:
I'm thinking of purchasing A Secret History as the next step - could you all tell me whether you feel it is worth paying an extra £12 for the rarities CD?


The Rarities CD isn't one I listen to very often, but it is great as a novelty. And you get a lovely book too - so personally I'd say, yeah, go for it! Worth an extra twelve quid anyway.

And welcome to the forum!
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luvly horse



Joined: 21 Nov 2002
Posts: 6209
Location: wondering what the hell she did wrong

PostPosted: Fri Apr 02, 2004 10:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hello ben-ja-min! (thats his name)

yes it is - DO IT!


Last edited by luvly horse on Fri Apr 02, 2004 10:42 pm; edited 1 time in total
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ronando2



Joined: 22 Mar 2004
Posts: 19
Location: dublin

PostPosted: Fri Apr 02, 2004 10:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great thread.

I love the new one, my favourite since 96 at least. Fin and Regeneration both have their moments, but there are tracks that really grate now as well: Sweden, Flood, Note To Self to name three. There is nothing that grates on the new album.

All of the tracks with the word Friend in the title are wonderful, Charmed Life is charming, Wreck.. is odd, different, and a real grower. The Happy Goth is a single that may not get boring with over-familiarity. The instrumental is slight, but pleasant. That'll do for me. It's not perfect, but it's damn good.

As for the 'layers of cheese', I have to say that a couple of these songs did nothing for me when I heard them live: the instrumentation has added immensely to them. If you don't like Wreck now, imagine hearing it for the first time in a crowd half-full of people there for Ben Folds, and the other half thinking 'What in the name of Jaysus is this?' So: bring on the cheese.
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Zeyneb



Joined: 24 Nov 2002
Posts: 1316
Location: Antwerp, Belgium

PostPosted: Fri Apr 02, 2004 10:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it's an excellent cd.
And the comments about the songs not being 'hit-sensitive' enough
(because that's basically what David Booth is saying) are irrelevant. Neil not on TOTP, so f***ing what? Would he want to be associated with TOTP? The only thing that would've been good about that is, as Laz suggested, that we could see Neil on TV more often (though is Neil music not ARTE-ish?).
I did have the feeling that the only other song capable of being a single is 'Happy Goth', but again, who cares?

And you gotta admire someone who writes a song about Laika!
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Phil



Joined: 21 Nov 2002
Posts: 942
Location: Germany

PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2004 12:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ben_W wrote:
Hi all, new to the forum.


Hello Ben, welcome to the board! Glad u love the new album!
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David Booth



Joined: 01 Apr 2004
Posts: 8
Location: Yorkshire

PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2004 1:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi everyone. Thank you very much for your continuing comments. Very, very interesting.
It's growing on me... honest and from first listen have always thought 'Mutual Friend' was quite superb.
Ben - spend the extra £12!
So what's the concensus: disappointing/ok/good/excellent/the best (delete as appropriate)? Moved up from disappointing to ok so far with me.
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Gimp



Joined: 25 Nov 2002
Posts: 2
Location: South East England

PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2004 2:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello, lurker re-surfacing...

It's good, but isn't a little bit kind of... unvaried as **? Promenade, Liberation and Casanova (and to a lesser extent Fin De Siecle) all had loads of songs which stuck in my head from first listen. These ones are all nice, but apart from Billy Bird I can't tell you how ANY of them go at all. And none bar Billy Bird would I describe as particularly jaunty (the ultimate DC adjective, surely?). I DO like it, and it's very much helped by the fact I'm having a bit of girl/life problems at the moment so I can apply the lyrics to me, but I still think it's too 'normal'.

Still, better than Regeneration. Razz

And am I the only one to think the design on the actual CD itself is really really dull and ugly? Casanova got a nice rose, Promenade has a nice pattern thing, this is just bleugh.


(Can anyone tell me what Wreck Of The Beautiful is about? And who's Laika?)
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Ben_W



Joined: 02 Apr 2004
Posts: 344
Location: Manchester

PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2004 9:17 am    Post subject: Cheers Reply with quote

Thanks for the welcomes everyone. I'll probably wait and get £20 together before getting A Secret History then - I didn't know you got a book with it. Bonus!

The Happy Goth is really superb, I thought I'd say it again. Absent Friends is my new favourite track Razz
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Phil



Joined: 21 Nov 2002
Posts: 942
Location: Germany

PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2004 10:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey, Wreck of The Beautiful is about a ship that first set sail in the year Neil was born, and Laika's Theme is about that dog that went in to space.
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Zeyneb



Joined: 24 Nov 2002
Posts: 1316
Location: Antwerp, Belgium

PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2004 11:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gimp wrote:
this is just bleugh.

The ultimate tribute to bloo
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Benny J



Joined: 21 Nov 2002
Posts: 3310

PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2004 1:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Phil wrote:
Hey, Wreck of The Beautiful is about a ship that first set sail in the year Neil was born


I'm sure I read somewhere that it was about a friend of his whom went off the rails and lost it a little bit. Damned if I can remember where, though.
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Phil



Joined: 21 Nov 2002
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2004 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

possibly u did. im also sure i read somewhere what i wrote above, but i dont think it was neil that said that.
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Phil



Joined: 21 Nov 2002
Posts: 942
Location: Germany

PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2004 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/rockandalt/reviews/divinecomedy_absent.shtml
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clairebarcelona



Joined: 03 Apr 2004
Posts: 17
Location: Eastleigh, Hants

PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2004 2:20 pm    Post subject: Absent friends - worth the wait? Reply with quote

Hello!

I've just been reading all the comments on the new album, makes very interesting reading.

Hi - this is my first post!

I first got into DC on hearing "National Express", having not heard of them before that sadly (where had I been??!). Got all the back catalogue now happily. Personally I love all the orchestration that Neil uses and have found the new album does encompass some of that earlier feel. On first listening I found the new album to be very mellow, but not music to slash your wrists too (as some have found!), with beautiful, interesting orchestration and new sounds (I love that sax on The Happy Goth!). Has Neil been having singing lessons? His vocals seen stronger yet again. Yes the album took a couple of plays to start to grow on me, but it is going round my head continuously now, since playing it virtually non stop since Monday! Highlights for me are The Happy Goth, Leaving Today, Come Home Billy Bird, Our Mutual Friend and Charmed Life. Not too sure about The Wreck of the Beautiful, although it gets better as it goes on. Laika's Theme is not really my thing.

Happily the kids are enjoying it too on the school run and at home, and my little 6 year old says she absolutely loves it, the songs are so happy! Nuff said. I have definitely got 2 little DC converts. They have been non commital about the earlier albums. This one is definitely a huge hit with all of us. I feel it is my duty as a mother to introduce them to some decent music, rather than all the usual **** that is played on the radio!

Thank you for listening!

Claire Very Happy
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Jennifer



Joined: 21 Nov 2002
Posts: 4969
Location: Greenock, Scotland

PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2004 2:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello there Claire
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clairebarcelona



Joined: 03 Apr 2004
Posts: 17
Location: Eastleigh, Hants

PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2004 2:35 pm    Post subject: Absent Friends - worth the wait? Reply with quote

Hi Jennifer

How ya doing?
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Jennifer



Joined: 21 Nov 2002
Posts: 4969
Location: Greenock, Scotland

PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2004 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not to bad thanks,
staying into as it's a bit rainy and I am thinking I might go and listen to Absent Friends in a bit Smile
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Mr Nude



Joined: 21 Nov 2002
Posts: 2205
Location: Skank Town

PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2004 2:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Claire! Nice to see lots of new people joining the board!

After a week of listening to it now, I just can't get enough of Absent Friends. It has a unique sound, but it's an 'every mood' kind of album in a way that perhaps other Divine Comedy albums aren't. I think it's Neil's best ever work.
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clairebarcelona



Joined: 03 Apr 2004
Posts: 17
Location: Eastleigh, Hants

PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2004 3:02 pm    Post subject: Absent Friends - worth the wait? Reply with quote

Hello Mr Nude!

Thanks! It's good to be here! Been meaning to post for a few years, but have been too shy!! Embarassed

I agree - this album is fantastic! Worth the wait I'd say. It's not going to get played on Radio 1 though! I didn't realise DC have been delegated to Radio 2 now that Mark and Lard have gone (who else there would play them).

Does anyone know if Neil is coming to the Southampton area? Saw DC at Southampton Uni March 2001 - I was a front row saddo! Briliant though - my first and only time I've seen them live. I remember Neil forgot the words to Dumb It Down and then threw a bottle of beer over his head to try and wake himself up!
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Mr Nude



Joined: 21 Nov 2002
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Location: Skank Town

PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2004 3:06 pm    Post subject: Re: Absent Friends - worth the wait? Reply with quote

clairebarcelona wrote:
I didn't realise DC have been delegated to Radio 2 now that Mark and Lard have gone (who else there would play them).


Radio 2's more popular than Radio 1 - it's just that its listeners are less likely to go out and buy singles - but at the end of the day, Neil's music would stand out like a sore thumb in the dross of the R1 playlist!
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clairebarcelona



Joined: 03 Apr 2004
Posts: 17
Location: Eastleigh, Hants

PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2004 3:43 pm    Post subject: Absent friends - worth the wait? Reply with quote

Dross with a capital D! Same old dross day in day out, yawn! My colleague has radio 1 on all day at work so I do have to listen to it day in day out! I did turn over to radio 2 last Tuesday was it, when Neil was on - only realised when a mate texted me to let me know about it! Much to my colleagues annoyance, moaning about me listening to radio 2! Although I understand DC get played quite a lot on radio 2?
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Mr Nude



Joined: 21 Nov 2002
Posts: 2205
Location: Skank Town

PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2004 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep - many of the Radio 2 DJs love The Divine Comedy - Ken Bruce, Janice Long, Jonathan Ross, Mark Goodier. Billy Bird was the 'single of the week' a couple of months ago. Absent Friends was 'album of the week' last week, and has also now made it onto the general playlist.

So it's all good!
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PinkLizard



Joined: 22 Nov 2002
Posts: 972

PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2004 6:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cjmacs wrote:
i wish i could say. i still haven't heard it. Sad


Yeah, mister David-Booth-grouchy-pants!! I wish I could say how s**t I thought it was, but I've not heard it!

And I bet when I get it (probably birthday), I'll love it.
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Farquhar Kerfuffle



Joined: 29 Mar 2004
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Sun Apr 04, 2004 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I share David's (tentative) disappointment. It wasn't a good sign when the first track came and went without impressing in any way: as an opening shot, it lacks a chorus (strange) and the orchestration is dull. Lyrically, giving the life of Oscar Wilde a 4-line summary seemed a bit pointless, considering all the things you could say about Wilde. Why is he there alongside Steve McQueen's fictional character? It seemed arbitary, somehow, and not particularly insightful.

Sticks & Stones is more like it: great arrangements, memorable. Billy Bird: great pop chorus, but I know it'll wear thin pretty soon. There's not enough going on to add depth to it. Nice low sax in Happy Goth, but this has been done before (one of the Casanova tracks, forget which).

Laika's theme is actually my favourite on the album, and I don't seem to be alone ... there's a bit of adventure about the arrangements and the production, great mood to it.

What I miss, I guess, are the sonic experiments from Regen: the occasional roughness, processed sounds, etc, and the emotional commitment in the singing of those songs. By comparison, Absent Friends sounds like a pop singer on Prozac ... like he's run out of ideas.

Disappointed, then, but only because previous albums have taken more creative chances.

F
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