One of my favorite bands, The Divine Comedy, is playing in Oslo tonight. I’ve seen them twice before, once here and once in Dublin, which was one of the great concert experiences of my life.
Neil Hannon, who is The Divine Comedy, has been remarkably consistent in his output, and being untethered from his contemporaries, has avoided the usual "middle age is approaching" slump. Furthermore, his side project, The Duckworth Lewis Method, a cricket-themed collaboration with Thomas Walsh, led me to discover the latter’s band, Pugwash, one of the great – and unfairly obscure – pop bands around.
The closest The Divine Comedy has come to releasing a dud was Regeneration, which was a stab at sounding more of its time. It remains one of the less-loved (Less-loved, mind you, not more-hated) releases, which is unfair, because it’s really good. This is the video for Perfect Lovesong.
Putin’s totalitarian turn ➜
This is a step towards totalitarianism, with every Russian, rich or poor, being demanded to make a choice: are you with or against Putin? There is no more room for neutrality or loyal opposition, caveats or concerns. Or else? Or else what he chillingly called a ‘natural and necessary self-cleansing of society,’ that he believed ‘will only strengthen our country, our solidarity, cohesion and readiness to meet any challenge.’ […] Of course, another word for cleansing is ‘purge.’
Mark Galeotti writing for The Spectator, Putin’s totalitarian turn
A proper return to form by Tears for Fears. Their new album, The Tipping Point, is great, but it won’t necessarily lighten your mood.
The sad thing is that if we hadn’t expanded NATO, Putin would have tirelessly devoted himself to world peace and the brotherhood of man.
A Reckless Gamble ➜
The decision to embark on this war rests on the shoulders of one man. As we saw earlier this week Putin has become obsessed with Ukraine, and prone to outrageous theories which appear as pretexts for war but which may also reflect his views. So many lives have already been lost because of the peculiar circumstances and character of this solitary individual, fearful of Covid and a Ukraine of his imagination.
Russia-Ukraine war: what is happening now? ➜
The origins of the crisis lie not in Ukraine but in Moscow. This war is all about keeping Vladimir Putin in power. He fears an invasion of democracy – coming over the border from Ukraine – which could threaten his position.
No-one on the western side made any written or formal guarantees about NATO expansion in 1991. But the debate about whether the Soviet Union could reasonably have inferred from what was said a promise not to expand is a red herring. The Russian leadership of 2022 has built its own version of history, including a perceived threat from NATO, to justify its actions.
Leigh Turner, Russia-Ukraine war explainer