By Marc Weingarten
May 14, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

Absent Friends

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With his Lou Rawls-in-hell locution and penchant for grand orchestral sweep, Neil Hannon could easily be mistaken for a smirking dandy. But even when he warbles a line like ”You and I go together like the molar and the drill” on ”Sticks and Stones,” one of the many velvet valentines found here, Hannon isn’t playing ironic games. He’s just an aesthete who can’t keep his ardor or musical ambitions in check, fashioning gorgeous, grotto-fabulous chamber pop.

Absent Friends

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