by Robbie Byrne USER (19 Reviews)
February 16th, 2013 | 3 replies

Release Date: 2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Different Villagers? Yes. Better Villagers? No.

The Villagers first album, Becoming a Jackal was an eerie, emotional but blissfully charming LP that allowed the Villagers to become a household name in Ireland and Britain. Tracks such as the wistful That Day and the desolate Pieces garnered sufficient attention for the folk band to get a mercury prize nomination.

After almost three years since the release of Becoming a Jackal, the electro influenced The Waves became the first sounds of what would become {Awayland} shocking many fans almost as much as the dubstep furore surrounding Muse’s Second-Law album trailer. Introducing itself in a simple electronic fashion and rising into a cacophony of chaos, The Waves showed that The Villagers were not just a one trick folk pony, in the Mumford and Sons mould, but a progressive folktronica group with serious ambitions.

Awayland’s opening track, My Lighthouse successfully deludes the listener into thinking its business as usual; gentle acoustic guitars, neat harmonies prelude to Conor O’Brien innocently singing, “You are needing a friend/ for to follow/ for to fend”. It’s all very, very beautiful and should set the tone perfectly for what should come next, but it doesn’t. The sophomore track, Earthly Pleasures begins suitably lo-fi, constructed around a satanic concept and soon builds into a deranged jam that resembles something the The Mars Volta would put on record. Judgment Call builds on a catchy bass line before fashioning itself into a synth laid climax.

Unlike Becoming a Jackal, whose themes were laid around childhood, love and love lost, {Awayland} focuses itself on fate and the fatalness of the human condition, a theme which is surmised in the lead single Nothing Arrived, which is possibly the most radio friendly work the band has ever created. Gone is the folktronica vibe for a more traditional indie-rock feel. It works beautifully, standing as a perfect centerpiece for the album. One major issue with the album as a whole is its lack of emotion. This problem is typified by Passing the Message and The Bell, though, which seem quite good in isolation, fail to stand up to the Villagers other works. {Awayland’s} trio of closing tracks continues in the same vein, in being, well, un-engaging and boring. While In a Newfoundland You are Free floats in its gentle beat, it quickly become monotonous, while Rhythm Composer falls down in sounding eerily similar to something Paul Simon would write

In place of punchier, heart-melting and melodic song production is appears to be an overproduced collection of songs that compensate for slightly weaker song writing. {Awayland} is certainly is not a poor album by any means, but neither could I admit to it being an enjoyable one. One cannot blame The Villagers for finding themselves in a different place to where they were in the creation of their first album; but it has certainly killed some of the magic.

My Lighthouse
Earthly Pleasures
Nothing Arrived

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user ratings (29)
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GiantMan (3.5)
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Becoming a Jackal

Comments:Add a Comment 
February 16th 2013


Album Rating: 2.5

waves is a good song. this is the sound of someone obviously talented pursuing a sound that doesn't

suit them

February 16th 2013


Album Rating: 3.5

I like this quite a bit, Nothing Arrived is one of the songs of the year so far.

July 26th 2013


Album Rating: 3.0

I saw the villagers live some weeks ago and I must say the songs from Awayland were completely transformed to an entirely new level. So what does that mean for the album? :S

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