posted by Ivo
January 2013

I can still remember hearing this band for the first time almost three years ago now. I was watching "Later with Jools Holland" when a somewhat strange figure appeared with a small acoustic guitar covered in black tape. The first notes of "Becoming a Jackal" entered my ears with a surprisingly positive effect. Their debut album, with the same name as the song mentioned before, was to become one of my favourites for a long time. After seeing them live a few times my expectations for their new album were high.And here it is.

Three years on the band has taken a leap forward, still touring with the same line up and delivering an innovative, slightly commercially challenging new album.The first single to be released from the album was "The Waves". A song in which the new sound is clearly heard. As always O’Conners voice makes it distinctive and though the song is much more electronically sounding then any of their older songs, it is clear that the band has kept their strong characteristic. The band has always had strong lyrics that make sense, but “The Waves” seems to emphasise this even more.  I’m not going to go into detail about the actual meaning of the lyrics, but I can’t help but relating them to many issues we all recognise and experience today.

The album starts off on a quite note. A Villagers song as we know and love them. "My Lighthouse" sets the atmosphere in which the majority of the album is set. The soft guitar picking and harmonising voices create a curiosity for what’s coming. But don’t get to enthusiastic about this familiar sound. The next song "Earthly Pleasure", makes it clear straight away who the "new" Villagers are. An upbeat half electronically beat song tells us an intriguing story. The lyrics are almost poetic and force you listen to them over and over again. The music and the choice of instruments give off a sign of how established they actually are now. Not only is the sound full and big, the band has found a way of doing this without using too many clichés.

The album continues to surprise. Delivering different sounds that can be hard to find nowadays in a lot of mainstream music. Villagers aren’t trying to be that hit making machine. They simply do what they should: Make new and inspiring music! The album title song "{Awayland}" shows exactly what this band is capable of doing. An instrumental piece of music, sounding almost classical, reminding me of the prog-rock era of the early seventies.

Villagers have undoubtedly delivered another interesting album. Although being less catchy than its predecessor, {Awayland} is of better craftsmanship offering high potential for the future.

Listen to the album on Spotify here