Released at a time where the fashion was to fill the whole run time of a CD with as much material as possible regardless of quality, all in the name of offering the listener more ‘value for money’, The Divine Comedy’s A Short Album About Love, as its name suggests, pulled in the opposite direction.
In releasing a brief punchy album, hot on the heels of the wonderful Casanova, Neil Hannon was skilfully managing to keep a firm grip on quality control, while making the most of the escalating interest in The Divine Comedy. It would have been so easy to double the length of this album by padding it out with sub-standard material, however by exercising restraint, Hannon ensured that his band’s legacy was not watered down by weaker material that should not have passed muster. As a result of this, A Short Album About Love remains as vibrant and vital as it did when it was released two decades ago, studded as it is with career high-points like “Everybody Knows (Except You)” and the wonderful “In Pursuit of Happiness”.
The irony of it all is, as one of the premier songsmiths of his generation, Hannon could have easily put out an album of quality material of twice the duration of this mini-album. Inversely, those lesser talents that stuffed their CD run time with sub-par material, would have ultimately been much better served by the mini-album format and probably wouldn’t have found themselves as creatively burnt out by the end of the 90s as so many did.
A Short Album About Love does exactly what you want a mini-album to do. It retains your interest throughout with a bunch of great songs, without putting any unnecessary demands on your time. Could it have been longer? Sure it could. Should it have been longer? No, it’s great as it is.
That’s the secret to love. Don’t over do it.