Villagers, Darling Arithmetic

 

villarge

After receiving a Mercury Music Prize nomination and winning an Ivor Novello songwriting award for his debut album Becoming A Jackal, Villagers main man Conor O’Brien took an unusual step with his second.

{Awayland}, also nominated for a Mercury, was an altogether different affair, embracing electronica and upping the stomp count considerably.

Darling Arithmetic is a return to the terrain of …Jackal, single Courage in particular sounding like a lost track from that debut. It is an odd choice for a lead 45, when O’Brien has in his armoury the gorgeous and catchy Dawning on Me and the marvellous indie-folk strum of Everything I Am is Yours.

Love is the album’s overriding theme but it’s not all smiley happiness: Hot Scary Summer reeks of claustrophobia while the excellent Little Bigot urges the titular anti-hero to “throw the hatred on the fire” while inviting comparisons to John Lennon’s Love with its “love is real, love is me, love is you” lyric.

One of O’Brien’s key strengths is his honesty, which makes every song sound enormously convincing, but it’s also one of his weaknesses. Listening to the album is a rewarding experience but requires some effort: mainstream success is likely to elude him for the foreseeable future but his small army of fans will lap this up.

Like this? Try these: Real Estate, Atlas; Passenger, Whispers

By Andrew Greenhalgh

twitter: @adjgreenhalgh

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