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4.3 out of 5 stars
{Awayland}
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Conor J. O'Brien is a fine song writer. No doubt about it. Villagers' 2010
album 'Becoming A Jackal' was a quietly menacing and thoroughly engrossing
affair. The kind of stuff which gave you the shivers in a very nice way.

Their new release 'Awayland' opens up a few new avenues. The sound, though
still substantially acoustic in nature, has thickened and gained in complexity
without losing any of its immediacy and appeal. Take 'Earthly Pleasure', for
example, a dense brew of crashing guitar, brutal percussion and shivering
strings, together with the kind of memorable chorus which has you reaching
for the repeat button the moment it's over; or perhaps the almost jaunty 'The
Waves' with its energetic quasi-caribbean rhythms and the superb 'Grateful
Song', with its uplifting sense of breadth and drama, to witness the artistic
development of an artist firing on all six creative cylinders. There are some
wonderfully simple moments too : 'In A Newfound Land You Are Free' is the kind
of song which you'll be drawn back to again and again for its gorgeous melody
and perfectly focused piano accompaniment and restrained vocal performance.

So early on in the New Year Villagers may well have delivered one of 2013's
musical highlights. It fully deserves our undivided attention and applause.

Highly Recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 10 February 2013
Over the first few listens Awayland has grown from a strong 3-4 stars to an absolutely guaranteed 5. Like all great albums it has hidden depths and guarantees longevity by unveiling itself over several listens. As the title suggests, seeing this performed live at the Leadmill in Sheffiled on Friday enhanced my enjoyment of a superb and varied collection of songs. I really believe this should go one further than Becoming a Jackal and win the Mercury music prize.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 22 January 2013
Ok. I have waited and waited for the villagers to bring out this album. I pre ordered it as soon as amazon advised it was coming out.
I prefer having hard copy CD's so had to wait a week until it arrived in NZ. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely.
This is a great follow up and easily up there with becoming a jackal. Conor J O'Brien is sheer genius. Tough to pick a favourite track
but hard to get Nothing Arrived out of my head. With this CD something certainly did arrive.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 February 2013
This is a spellbinding collection of songs from the brilliant mind of Conor O'Brian, translated into an ever evolving collection by his collaborators. This support and depth makes Awayland an engaging listen, perhaps more so than the introspective debut, Becoming a Jackal.
Far from his initial wonderings backed by little more than an acoustic guitar, seeing O'Brian and Co. live demonstrates the diversity and perspective of this record- never before has the energy of the record, particularly on tracks such as The Bell and the masterful Earthly Pleasure, been so clearly conveyed. The wider spread of influences goes to make this not only the strongest set of songs O'Brian has ever assembled, but perhaps the strongest that any act has this year. Rereshing and engaging, Awayland never ceases to amaze.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I was only slightly persuaded that the Villagers were any good by the first album. I really enjoyed Ship of Fools & Becoming a Jackal & The Meaning of the Ritual, but thought the album as a whole lacked a bit of heart & soul.

I was subsequently knocked out by a performance at the Borderline in London, the songs sounded alive. Plus we got to hear much of this new collection - most of which sounded wonderful.

Now I have the CD, and it mostly is wonderful. The songwriting is assured, the melodies are naggingly good and the playing is great. I still think there is a lack of something soulful herein, but have no doubt that Conor O'Brien is making his way slowly towards creating a masterpiece. He certainly has the talent.
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on 14 February 2013
I first became acquainted with Villagers in mid-2011 and was lucky enough to see them perform in Placa del Rei in Barcelona in September of that year - and coincidentally I'm off to see them again tonight in the less glamorous surroundings of the old Digbeth Institute in Birmingham - well it is St. Valentine's Day.

I bought this album a couple of days after it was released and had mixed feelings at first. i've played it a lot since and have reconciled some of my differences and have finally accepted that "The Waves" is a rather good song (I didn't enjoy it at all at first) and "Nothing Arrived" is one of those tunes that you know upon first hearing that you will love for years, but I just feel that several of the tracks seem to be filler to make the album long enough. "Judgement Call" is a case in point. It seems to lack the finesse of so many of the songs on "Becoming a Jackal" and doesn't really go anywhere. I find myself reaching for the skip button. Too many of the tracks seem insubstantial and unmemorable. I've been listening to the two albums back to back in the car for a couple of weeks and can't help thinking that "{Awayland}" only achieves the high standards of the first album a few times.

If you're already a fan, then you've probably already got both, so why are you reading this review? If you're just discovering Villagers then my advice would be to listen to "Becoming a Jackal" first and give "{Awayland}" a try when you're convinced.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 21 May 2013
I originally brought the album because I love the track the 'Bell' which had been getting lots of airplay on radio six. With a couple of plays of each side I now love it all! It is just so well crafted.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 February 2013
This album is a thing of beauty, raw emotion reaching from every song. Conor o'Brien wonderful talent. Strong influences coming through from Devine comedy, radio head and some very original songs too. A five star album, they more thinly spread these days!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 August 2013
Villagers come of age. A more electronic sound on this album, but the songwriting remains as strong as on 'Jackal'. The production is lush and the it sounds big. Definitely recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 August 2013
Villagers are so underated. If you appreciate interesting music supported by haunting vocals then this album is a must. Haven't stopped playing it.
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