The Irish born Conor O’Brien and Co, formerly Villagers have shrewdly bided their time since their multi-award nominated debut album Becoming a Jackal. It has been three long years now and for those who have waited with baited breath for their return, prepare to be blown away.
The first taste of Awayland emerged late last year with leading single 'The Waves', an inimitable and almost avant-garde voyage of a song, reminding us of their artistically poetic and surrealist tendencies.
Villagers have delicately refined the best of their previous style, yet honed in even deeper taking larger risks whilst keeping their original aura intact. Awayland floats in and out of delirious and almost alienating obscurity right back to poignant and relatable storytelling, to which sole songwriter and vocalist O’Brien is a master of.
From the drama of 'Earthy Pleasures' to the warming of 'Judgement Call', strained yet concise vocals are set against folk guitars and at times an almost techno enthused bass line.
An obvious comparison would be with Bon Iver, but without the drear. They have managed to craft the right blend of guitars, strings and emotion, but kept optimism and escapism at the records core. 'Grateful Song' is just lovely and entirely refreshing. The album finishes on a high with the delightful 'Rhythm Composer', a jaunty and fun ending to an extraordinary LP.
It’s very early days with regards to album’s of the year, but this no doubt be amongst them. It’s intelligent, imaginative and truly unique and as second albums go, a confident promise of longevity to their fans.
The beauty of this record is that it requires no work, no ‘right mood’. As it unfolds it is every bit as captivating its predecessor, if not more so. It will immediately grip your undivided attention and beg for repetition and further exploration.