Villagers - Awayland Album Review


Review of Awayland Album by Villagers

Conor O'Brien's Villagers second album (Awayland), as the title suggests, is an ambitious and immersive effort that's primarily concerned with creating its own dreamscape. It's a bigger record both in terms of scope and execution than their 2010 debut, the Mercury nominated Becoming A Jackal.  This new set of songs isn't always successful though, as they get bogged down within O'Brien's dense and occasionally psychedelic narrative, but there is much to admire here.

Villagers Awayland Album

It's also interesting to see O'Brien expanding his musical palette, while letting the rest of the band undertake some of the heavy lifting. The most welcome addition is the subtle electronica that bubbles to the surface of some of the compositions. There's also some impressive harmonising from the band throughout.

The key track for understanding the intention and part of the problem with (Awayland) is 'Earthly Pleasure'. Following the decidedly more sedate and concise opener 'My Lighthouse', O'Brien details the daydream of his protagonist. The use of an electronic vocal stutter as he sets the scene ("Naked on the toilet with a toothbrush in his mouth. He suddenly acquired an overwhelming sense of self-doubt. Every single piece of baggage he'd been holding on his back was beginning to dig in and his back began to crack".) is effective. However as strings begin to swirl and guitars become more frenzied the lyrics descend into a somewhat confusing stream of consciousness narrative. Ultimately that's the problem with some of the material here, the lyrical detours sometimes feel too clever for their own good.

Some of the later tracks get the balance right though, with O'Brien's warm voice drawing you into tracks like 'Grateful Song' and 'Rhythm Composer'. Thematically there's an undercurrent of seaside imagery and the innocence of youth behind many of the songs that create the aural journey to (Awayland). But perhaps it's telling that the title track which is one of the strongest of the set, is actually an instrumental.

While (Awayland) is musically adventurous and shares some of the darker traits of the first Villagers album, it's also a dramatic departure from quite what you'd expect from a second record. It verges on being a concept album and displays a confidence that signals good things for future material. While it has problems, you wonder whether some of them are intentionally high concept jokes, that's probably why the last sound you hear is a braying donkey then.

Jim Pusey




Official Site - http://www.wearevillagers.com

Advertisement

More Villagers

A Week In Music - Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds' 'Push The Sky Away' Riding High, Foal Break New Ground With 'Holy Fire' And Haim Get Close To Nature With 'Falling'

Albums of Note... Heaped with praise and riding high in the UK charts, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ 15th studio album, Push the Sky...

Villagers - Awayland Album Review

Conor O'Brien's Villagers second album (Awayland), as the title suggests, is an ambitious and immersive effort that's primarily concerned with creating its own dreamscape. It's...

Out Now: UK Album Releases: Les Miserables OST A Sure-Fired Hit, Everything Everything Gunning For Success, New Order Album Finally Sees Light Of Day

We’re still in a period of calm for the music industry, as far as album releases go. What this does mean for those that do...

Villagers - Cecelia & Her Selfhood Video

Villagers' new single, 'Cecilia & Her Selfhood' is available to download from the band's website. It follows on from the band's debut album, 'Becoming A...

Advertisement

Field Day - Victoria Park, London. 6th August 2011

As one-day music festivals go, London's Field Day stands out from the crowd as being the most ambitious and forward-thinking certainly in terms of its...

Villagers - Becoming a Jackal

Now that the dust has had a chance to settle in the wake of the nominations for the 2010 Barclaycard Mercury Prize and both press...

Villagers - Ship Of Promises Video

Ship Of Promises is the stunning second single taken from Villagers' critically acclaimed debut, Becoming a Jackal. Conor O'Brien perhaps better known as Villagers releases...

Villagers - Becoming a Jackal Video

Becoming a Jackal is the debut single from Irish singer/songwriter/poet Conor J. O' Brien AKA Villagers. Information on The debut will be announced shortly. So...

Advertisement

Comments

Villagers Newsletter

Subscribe to this news alert service to receive news and reviews on Villagers

Unsubscribe | Unsubscribe All