It is, of course, amazing that Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy has formed a band named after an obscure cricket rule. It’s even more amazing that both their self-titled 2009 album and this, the follow-up, are actually about cricket. Take ‘The Umpire’, which ruminates on technology threatening the livelihood of cricket umpires. Or ‘Third Man’ (featuring Daniel Radcliffe, aka Harry bloody Potter), on which Hannon and his bandmate Thomas Walsh giggle about how luxurious it is to while away an afternoon in the most pointless fielding position of all. It’s mostly soft-rock plus strings and piano, apart from ‘Line And Length’, which dabbles in INXS-style electro-pop. Easy listening, as it should be. ‘Sticky Wickets’ lands just before an Ashes series, which is perfect timing, and they’ve even got Stephen Fry reciting a poem on ‘Judd’s Paradox’. Love the way cricket brings out people’s most eccentric traits? Then love this.
Das Cover ziert übrigens Michael Angelow, der 1975 als erster Flitzer in der Geschichte des Cricket während eines Matches zwischen England und Australien den Lord's Cricket Ground in London betrat.
The opener and title track is a euphemistic wig-out while ELO and 1970s pop and rock are reference points throughout, and the formula-quoting Line and Length is funky electro with a nod to M's Pop Muzik, David Bowie's Fashion and the productions of Trevor Horn and Nile Rodgers. Daniel Radcliffe delivers the winning couplet "My thoughts have been diluted like a two-and-six novella/ Am I in a field in England or in the dark streets of Vienna?" on Third Man which quotes Anton Karas's Harry Lime Theme while other guest speakers include Henry Blofeld (very good on the banker-baiting It's Just Not Cricket), David Lloyd and uber-luvvie Stephen Fry. It's all a bit silly but fond and well intentioned and I was humming the catchy Out in the Middle after two listens. Is it any coincidence that the Ashes start next week? No. Hats off to Roy Harper.