Thursday, April 4, 2013

Villagers' (Awayland)

This is not my usual thing at all...a fairly blippy, sleek songwriter pop, but the thing is that under the ingratiating surface, there are some amazingly complex things going on, rhythms and counterpoints and noises and textures that go pretty far beyond whatever category we started in.  I haven't listened to it enough to review it, and I don't have it assigned anywhere, so I'm guessing that's not going to happen.  So let's just crib from someone who has and who also seemed to enjoy Villagers' (Awayland) a whole bunch.  How about the Independent for starters: 

Like many a gifted writer garlanded with lavish acclaim at the outset of their career, Villagers' Conor J O'Brien was wracked with self-doubt when the time came to follow up his Mercury-nominated, Ivor Novello Award-winning debut. The treadmill of two years' touring had all but crushed his creative spirit, and he hated the songs he was writing with a guitar. So he adopted an entirely different approach, re-immersing himself in youthful penchants for electronica, krautrock, funk and jazz-fusion, and creating groove soundscapes as the basis upon which to build new songs.

The results are transformative, and by the sound of it, welcomed by O'Brien's fellow Villagers, whose collective input shapes the songs much more deeply than on Becoming a Jackal. Unlike that album, {Awayland} sounds like a band, one keenly engaged in creating their own musical road as they walk upon it. Whether it's buffing the Bon Iver-esque sheen of "My Lighthouse" with sleek harmonies, or building "The Waves" from its staccato tattoo into a maelstrom of snarling guitar, pulsing synth and sweeping orchestration, these songs fizz with the excitement of creation.

Or the Quietus
{Awayland} is a treasure trove of an album, brimming with ideas, most of which work and all of which, at the very least, prove that O'Brien is not simply another little-boy-lost lamenting the fact his parents wouldn't pass him the salt, but a songwriter of real note. Of all the lines from this sad, funny, exuberant and brilliant record that I now wish to have tattooed across my face, I think I've settled for this from 'Judgment Call': "we've gotta get the kids before they grow / God forbid they retain their sense of wonder". Consider mine rediscovered.

Here's one of those video press release video things

You can also stream the whole album, at least for now, at NPR

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