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    The Villagers

    Becoming A Jackal 6 ( 2011 )
    I Saw The Dead / Becoming A Jackal / Ship Of Promises / The Meaning Of The Ritual / Home / That Day / The Pact (I'll Be Your Fever) / Set The Tigers Free / Twenty Seven Strangers / Pieces / To Be Counted Among Men

    Dubliner Conor J O'Brien who records under the name Villagers sounds very indie-folk, singer/songwriter and quite American indie-songwriter, all told. He also reminds one of Sufjan Stevens and Simon and Garfunkel. There is a dedication to songwriting craft and plenty of Sixties sunshine filtered through dusty Dublin lenses. 'Dust On The Dancefloor' is a jaunty little thing, the kind of indie-pop The Divine Comedy used to make, although with a lightness of touch The Divine Comedy have only rarely managed since they started having minor hit records. His vocals softly move across richly arranged musical backing during the opener 'I Saw The Dead', a song full of quiet and building up-to being loud without ever deliberately reaching loud, it's a song of tension amongst the beautiful orchestrated parts. The title track, which has won a songwriting aware of two, picks up where Simon And Garfunkel left off circa 'The Boxer'. Like 'I Saw The Dead' the music has been cleverly arranged out of fairly simple components, bass, percussion, bells and not much really in the way of guitar. It's a song with clever, picturesque lyrics and a pace that if any quicker would be disrespectful to the lyrics and any slower would take out much of the 'Becoming A Jackal's' tension and excitement. Bells and strings and purring bass continue to faithfully expand upon O'Briens often simple guitar song structures throughout the album. 'The Meaning Of The Ritual' and 'Home' both feature somewhat chilly, his voice has a deceivingly delicate quality as if he's about to burst into tears, yet married to these strong and literate vocals, a confidence comes through that contrasts with his quite affecting vocal qualities.

    'The Pact (I'll Be Your Fever)' is the right song at the right time as far as the running order for 'Becoming A Jackal' is concerned, it comes across as jaunty Leonard Cohen song, if such a thing is imaginable and contrasts nicely next to some of the more earnest sounding material. In fact, the main criticism we can level at this album is ideally we needed more mood variations, more stylistic variations. We have a cohesive listening experience yet arguably at the cost of experiencing enough emotional highs and lows. By the time we reach the ballad 'Pieces' we end up admiring the construction rather than allowing ourselves to be pulled in emotionally.

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    this page last updated 08/01/12


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