Ireland's favourite musical fop Neil Hannon returns with a ninth album whose title is a reference to the hard-to-find first album which kick-started a career now in to its sixteenth year of recording. During this time, Hannon gradually made more and more ambitious records showcasing his arch, literate indie-pop style before 2001's guitar-heavy, yet almost perfect 'Regeneration' led to a somewhat more relaxed approach to songwriting.
In keeping with last album 'Absent Friends', Hannon now seems to be settled into a comfort zone; content to hone his increasingly witty lyrics in the context of some lush but often emotionally underwhelming arrangements. There's more than an air of Noel Coward to first song 'To Die A Virgin' - such is its cleverness of lyric - but it also lacks a heart and that becomes indicative of the album as a whole. The last three songs of 'Victory...' undoubtedly have a great story to tell but as songs they're fairly forgettable. That said, Hannon is still more than capable of writing a great song to go with a great melody; they're hand-in-hand on the sweeping epic 'A Lady Of A Certain Age', a song which neatly follows on from the last album's standout 'Our Mutual Friend'. In addition, 'Diva Lady' briefly reclaims Hannon's position as the King of Arch Pop but that is soon lost for the decision to cover The Associates' 'Party Fears Two' where Hannon's rich croon could do with a touch of Billy Mackenzie's heart-wrenching insanity to make it worthwhile. Largely, though, Hannon for once is treading water and all the sumptuous arrangements in the world cannot hide a lack of new ideas.