Essential, hazy summer listening or infuriating, esoteric nonsense?
Lou Thomas 2009
With The Divine Comedy singer Neil Hannon made some of the smuggest singles of the 90s while impressing with contributions to genius TV comedy Father Ted (including the theme tune). So it is with trepidation one approaches a concept album about cricket co-written by Hannon and Thomas Welsh of Irish band Pugwash.
National treasure Stephen Fry has Twittered his approval of the album, which is no surprise given the PG Wodehouse flavour of proceedings.
Jiggery Pokery in particular has a tweedy piano refrain and is quaint as a pack of grandmothers darning socks on a village green. Ten out of ten, though, for the lyric, ''Robbery/muggery/Aussie skulduggery'', while ending a tune with a crazed, ''I hate Shane Warne!'' is surely unprecedented.
Single, The Age Of Revolution, is a more modern take on the game's recent turbulence (including the advent of Twenty20) and bumps along mellifluously like a brass-adorned leftover from The Bees' Octopus.
It's far better than Gentleman and Players which is the kind of awful, fey, tenth-rate Kinks tribute aberration that should been smothered in the studio and The Coin Toss, a hateful but thankfully short relative of Supernatural's Smile.
Elsewhere, unexpected pleasure abounds in The Nightwatchman. Hannon's voice occasionally mimics the richness (but not ferocity) of Queens Of The Stone Age frontman Josh Homme before the delicate number morphs into Superfly–era Curtis Mayfield. On a record of baffling moments, this one is easily the oddest.
Harpsichords finally turn up on the bucolic Flatten The Hay (about the only truly predictable moment on the whole record), but by then listeners will have decided whether The Duckworth Lewis Method is essential, hazy summer listening or infuriating, esoteric nonsense.
In truth, it's probably both.