The day after Villagers lead Conor O’Brien’s previous band The Immediate split, the immensely talented musician woke up, and wrote his new bands first song. Five years, a debut album, and being shortlisted for a Mercury Prize later Villagers have released one of the strangest, yet blindingly superb albums I have heard in a long time in sophomore album entitled {Awayland}. Why? I’m not gonna make it that easy, read on!

One of my main problems with their debut Becoming A Jackal was its lack of risks. The album played it too safe. As good as it was, I did not truly love it. With {Awayland}, the Irish group have really gone for the prize. I personally have this album split into two parts, one before the track {Awayland}, and the second part after (the track seems like an interlude). The first part making a much more experimental, and very much strange impression. With the second song Earthly Pleasures, O’Brien sings “Naked on the toilet, with a toothbrush in his mouth” he puts the album in a very strange mood before turning up the class with unbelievable effect through The Waves, Judgement Call, Nothing Arrived, and The Bell. These songs are still fairly experimental from a band classified as Folk, but are probably the best songs on the album. No exception to Nothing Arrived, which is by far my favorite song they have released.

The second part of the album (in my eyes) is a slight change from the first part, but that does not mean the quality decreases. Taking a more Villagers-esque, somber theme the second part of the album eases out of strangeness into a calm ending. The last few songs are just as good as the first, just slower. Deep lyrics, attractive melodies, and overall a very solid conclusion to a phenomenal album.

A tremendous album from start to finish. Villagers have really made the start of 2013 a good one, and with many more highly anticipated albums on the way, they definitely needed to make an impression.

{Awayland} is out now in Europe and the UK.

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