HEADING ON DOWN TO THE VILLAGE
Conor O Brien has a distinctive voice no doubt about it. I wasn’t a big fan of the Villagers first album. To be honest i have yet to see the band perform live for my own eyes to see and ears to hear. Sometimes it can be tough for me to reach city gigs when you are stuck in a rural area and dont have a car to get around in.
Villagers second full album “Awayland” see’s the band progress, especially on the format of lyrics. That difficult second album seems to be not so difficult after all! (Well for the Villagers anyway!)
Opening track “My Lighthouse” with the lyrics “You are needing a friend, For to follow, for to fend” as if to say Conor O Brien is lost and confused. Maybe open spaces are a big deal for our lead singer.
It isn’t until the second song “Earthly Pleasure” kicks in that you begin to realize that Villagers don’t give a shit what people think of they’re “sometimes” mellon collie sound.
I now realize that O’Brien is a clever man, a clever poet trying to convey how he feels about certain issues through song. (Don’t we all”!!) The lyrics are long but they pull you in as if to say you the listener are part of this extraordinary adventure.
The Villagers have begun to complete their own sound on album number 2. It was only on track five, the radio friendly “Nothing Arrived” (first single to be taken off the album) that i could hear similarities to the REM track “Electrolite” from the very underrated “New Adventures in Hi-Fi” album. But this is the only moment through out the album that i felt the band had certain similarities to another act.
The Villagers have definitely raised the bar on this album, i do feel that a lot of the tracks conceived on this album are not radio friendly which sometimes can be a good thing. Other times not.
The album may also be more of a mellow effort than the previous record “Becoming a Jackal” especially on the beautiful instrumental track “Awayland” . Things get pushed back right up on the “funky” track eight “Passing A Message”, where O Brien tells us that his passing a message that means nothing to him.
There is a few short moments on the record where i feel that the album tries to be something else. Maybe it tries too hard? Too arty maybe? But this is only a very small issue i personally have with the record.
All in all i do see the album progressing and growing on people and by this time next year it will have gained numerous awards around Europe and further afield.
I was convinced by the end of the album that Conor O’Brien has a very bright future ahead of him.(Not that he already has!) I still need to give the album a few more listens before i can fully appreciate it. But i am the type of person that finds that some of the best albums in the world need numerous listens before you can fully understand and appreciate the value of them.
Conor O Brien is probably one of the best songwriters in Ireland right now and Ireland needs to embrace the Villagers and give them more credit sooner rather than later before another country calls him their own son! Time for me to buy that car! More of this please!