Becoming a Jackal by Villagers on Apple Music

12 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

Recording under the nom de plume Villagers, Conor J. O’Brien makes his solo debut with a richly textured folk-pop album filled with visionary lyrics and haunting minor-key melodies. An introspective troubadour with a romantic streak, he combines the longing spirit of Jens Lekman with Paul Simon’s urbanite angst. What gives Becoming a Jackal its spark is O’Brien’s gift for telling stories without dispelling their poetic mystery. Tracks like “That Day,” “The Meaning of the Ritual” and the title song paint unsettling pictures of desire and betrayal, framing them in evocative acoustic-slanted arrangements. O’Brien probes the nature of relationships with a subtle pen in the buoyant “The Pact (“I’ll Be Your Fever)” and the tropical “Set the Tigers Free.” “I Saw the Dead” pulses with prog-rock grandeur, while “Ship of Promises” sails high upon baroque-pop strings. O’Brien’s winsome tenor voice gives him the air of a pilgrim seeking truth in a confused and corrupted world and he emerges as a one-man band to be reckoned with by the end of this outstanding album.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Recording under the nom de plume Villagers, Conor J. O’Brien makes his solo debut with a richly textured folk-pop album filled with visionary lyrics and haunting minor-key melodies. An introspective troubadour with a romantic streak, he combines the longing spirit of Jens Lekman with Paul Simon’s urbanite angst. What gives Becoming a Jackal its spark is O’Brien’s gift for telling stories without dispelling their poetic mystery. Tracks like “That Day,” “The Meaning of the Ritual” and the title song paint unsettling pictures of desire and betrayal, framing them in evocative acoustic-slanted arrangements. O’Brien probes the nature of relationships with a subtle pen in the buoyant “The Pact (“I’ll Be Your Fever)” and the tropical “Set the Tigers Free.” “I Saw the Dead” pulses with prog-rock grandeur, while “Ship of Promises” sails high upon baroque-pop strings. O’Brien’s winsome tenor voice gives him the air of a pilgrim seeking truth in a confused and corrupted world and he emerges as a one-man band to be reckoned with by the end of this outstanding album.

TITLE TIME
5:03
3:19
4:36
3:14
4:41
3:10
3:28
3:22
3:24
5:25
4:43
4:35

About Villagers

Villagers, a solo vehicle for Irish singer/songwriter Conor J. O'Brien, specializes in atmospheric, indie folk/chamber pop that balances the youthful exuberance of contemporaries Jens Lekman, Eugene McGuinness, and Johnny Flynn with the classic rock and pop of artists like Paul Simon and Robert Wyatt. Formed in the late 2000s after the breakup of his band the Immediate, O’Brien began writing his own, solo material. A four-track EP appeared in 2009 and was performed entirely by the Irishman. He soon realized that to re-create his burgeoning ideas live he would need a band, so he hastily recruited Tommy McLaughlin, Danny Snow, James Byrne, and Cormac Curran. There was a quiet buzz about O'Brien's new project from the music critics and fans, which eventually transferred into support slots for Neil Young and a European tour with Tracy Chapman. The Dublin native's debut album, Becoming a Jackal, was released on U.K. independent Domino Records in 2010. The record was highly praised across the board and went on to receive a nomination for the coveted Mercury Music Prize, while O'Brien won the prestigious Best Song Musically and Lyrically Ivor Novello award for its title track in 2011. Toward the end of 2012, the band announced the release of the first single from their sophomore album, "The Waves," which marked a slight change in direction and introduced an electronic influence to their indie folk sound. The hotly anticipated follow-up to their debut, {Awayland}, came in early 2013. In 2015, O'Brien returned Villagers to a more introspective, acoustic folk sound with the group's third full-length album, Darling Arithmetic. Their 2016 release Where Have You Been All My Life was recorded at London's RAK studio in one day, the majority of the songs being captured in one or two takes. The band eschewed overdubs or extensive post-production in favor of a more pared-back, intimate sound. ~ James Christopher Monger & Scott Kerr

  • ORIGIN
    Dublin, Ireland
  • FORMED
    2008

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