Villagers - {Awayland}

By Eve Cheesmur

Released January 11th, 2013 - EMI

The second album by Irish band Villagers takes a wee while to warm to, so pour yourself a strong cuppa tea to brew over the layered lyrics and stew on the musical complexities for a second listen through{Awayland}.

Villagers' first album 'Becoming a Jackel' was nominated for theMercury Prize in 2010, and three years on, fans have been waiting with baited breath to hear if this second album will be as highly praised.

Highly revered front man Conor O'Brien has clearly been the brainchild behind {Awayland}, which embodies folk vocals and instrumentation, peppered with the addition of mild electronic elements. Overall, the lyrics are poignant, poetic and precisely paced. This is a well-produced album (if not at times overly produced), with obvious time and effort put into crafting the individual tracks.

Accompanied with some lyrical genius from O'Brien, {Awayland} makes you feel somewhat of a voyeur as he lifts the lid on his internal stream of conscious and offers lyrical flushes throughout the album. "Naked on the toilet with a tooth brush in his mouth", he sings in ‘Earthly Pleasures', "When he suddenly acquired an overwhelming sense of doubt, Every single piece of baggage he'd been holding on his back, Was beginning to dig-dig-dig in and-and his back began-began to crack". You've got to admire the poetic beauty that stutters freely throughout.

The album takes you on a juxtaposing journey for 43 minutes, and you never really know what is coming next. Although the tracks themselves are extremely polished, the album overall doesn't quite seem to glue together. While 'Rhythm Composer' offers muffled brass and could at times be confused with a beige take on Beirut, 'Judgement Call' could be classified as cheesy listening. 'My Lighthouse' carries harrowing harmonies and haunting lyrics and is rather melancholic and then you're riding on 'The Waves' which offers musical builds with a fusion of piano and electronic elements.

All in all, it feels as though there has been an attempt to break through the boundaries of convention for Villagers with the introduction of electronica to their predominantly produced folk-based music, but it feels like they were a bit afraid of committing fully to the new fusion of musical genres. None the less, it seems only fair to raise a glass {or cup of tea} to the new album.