IoS album review: Villagers, Awayland (Domino)
Sunday 13 January 2013
The cover of Awayland depicts a small child staring at an unspoilt wilderness. Sometimes, the truth is staring you in the face: with its far from cryptic title, the second Villagers album is all about escape, whether in the literal, geographical sense or through reverie and sensation. "Why," it asks, "should we fear what travel brings?"
Like the other Conor (Oberst of Bright Eyes), Conor O'Brien excels in imparting a feeling of intimacy and an eye for detail. In style, however, he's happy to lurch from beauty to bathos: track one ends with the courtly "I'll save all my stories for thee", and track two begins with the squalid "Naked on the toilet with a toothbrush in his mouth..." Perhaps the most significant line, however, is in "Judgement Call" – "We've got to get the kids before they grow/God forbid they retain their sense of wonder..."
Sonically, it's both insistently traditional and unobtrusively modern. It's that rare commodity: an album to immerse yourself in and spend time with, both things no one does any more. It closes with the sound of squealing pigs, bringing to mind the film Deliverance.
Perhaps O'Brien is trying to tell us something: the great outdoors isn't so great after all.
To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthdaybooks
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Amy Winehouse statue unveiled in Camden
- 2 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 3 George Galloway on Scottish independence: The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
- 4 Headaches, fry ups, and hair of the dog - why do we get hangovers, and is there such thing as a 'cure'?
- 5 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
George Galloway on Scottish independence: The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained in Los Angeles after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
Scottish independence: Britain faces 'constitutional crisis' at next election
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly