It was back in the mid 90’s when I first heard The Divine Comedy. Neil Hannon’s rich vocals, witty lyrics and Joby Talbot’s wonderfully ambitious productions proved to be one of the most enduring acts of the late Brit pop era and it’s hard not to think fondly back to that time when I encountered the music of France’s A Singer Must Die.
Manuel Bichon is credited as composer as well as being guitarist and bassist and it is he who conducts the lush backdrops and choral arrangements whereas Manuel Ferrer’s gloriously emotive vocals add the final ingredient to their swish chamber pop. They are brilliantly served by the stylish, yet edgy pop of ‘Smoky Mourners’; cleverly adding gutsy indie guitars to contrast the dynamic Ferrer. ‘Still Worlds’ and ‘The Sordid Tango’ follow suit and seem to be cut from the same cloth as prime period Hannon. The last song on the original album, ‘By The Dawn Of Monday’, is a refined triumph too; opting for the kitchen sink approach, military drums and all.
The final five songs form ‘More Songs Beyond Love’; effectively a bonus to the original album and they are classy additions to an already exquisite experience. Here Ferrer and Bichon arguably stretch themselves even more. Ferrer gives full vent to his flamboyant side for the perfectly judged swoon pop of ‘The Fortress’, there’s an intense Bond-style thriller (‘As If We Could Make Unique Things Twice’) and it would take a hard heart not to admire ‘Christmas Will Never Be As It Was’ even at this time of year. The group end the performance with a graceful, subtle little number called ‘A Right Arm Beyond Love’.
There may be occasions when A Singer Must Die fly a little too close to the sun but their music is underpinned with a wry smile and kept on the ground by the weight of melancholy. A Singer Must Die are the new go-to guys for those who like classic, romantic indie pop bolstered by big production values.
The Divine Comedy, Misty Roses, The Fabulous Artisans, Avril