Album Review: Villagers – {Awayland} | 5/5 |

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This article was produced for and originally appeared in the Metro Herald.

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On Villagers’ 2010 debut Conor O’Brien cemented his reputation as a prodigious talent. Masterfully written and rapturously received, Becoming A Jackal transported our diminutive Dubliner to distant lands; ones teeming with awards and praise.

Though travel may broaden one’s mind, repetition can dull it. Constant touring, with only the same tracks for company, prompted a will to expand and experiment for the follow-up. {Awayland} is the beautiful realisation of such wishes.

The incessant blips and sonic flourishes of lead single ‘The Waves’ hinted at an electronic revolution but the reality is more of a quiet transformation. The guitar is still king, but now there’s an increased focus on the combination of elements, with new textures foraged and embedded with off-kilter rhythms.

With sincere declarations and joyous harmonies ‘My Lighthouse’ is a pure and gentle introduction. The surreal, dramatic pomp of ‘Earthly Pleasure’ quickly ramps things up; its unique inner monologue proving that success hasn’t dimmed O’Brien’s lyrical eye. As articulate and erudite as ever, he meshes striking imagery with abstract references throughout the album, again delivering them with such careful, powerful enunciation.

Jackal was essentially a solo project, with O’Brien responsible for devising and recording virtually every note on it. Here, the increased collaboration brings more cohesive, dynamic arrangements. From the propulsive finale of ‘The Bell’ to ‘Judgement Call’s’ rhythmic ascensions, there’s a new richness to be found and a keen ear will be duly rewarded. Particular mention must go to Cormac Curran and his exemplary string work, not least on the title-track, which is a stunning instrumental composition.

A triumphant progression in every way, this is the return we had all hoped for. Most excitingly of all, you feel there’s even more to come.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. That’s some beautiful guitar playing.. Thank you for this. 🙂

    Will

    Liked by 1 person

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