I have always found it difficult to believe that when The Divine Comedy released their biggest single to date, “National Express”, it came from their sixth album, Fin de Siècle.
Coming out just following the dawn of 1999, “National Express” proved to be something of a surprise success, especially considering its placing as the final single from the album.
The often wry and bleak humour displayed in the lyrics throughout sit well against Neil Hannon’s booming voice, as he describes societies underlings, whether they be screaming children, old ladies, unlikely fathers and once youthful women, whose youth and beauty have faded without grace in the sands of time.
It is a song, not just about watching people, but also watching your life disappear.
Admittedly, Hannon’s baroque and chamber pop project was certainly a slow burner that really only started with his second single “Something for the Weekend” from the 1996 album Casanova. Of course, many fans of Father Ted will know the Casanova track “Songs of Love”, as it became the theme tune to the show.
How could possibly leave out the fact that “National Express” has one of the best lines in modern (ish) music. Genius.
“…but it’s hard to get by when your arse is the size of a small country…”