Villagers
Fever Dreams


4.0
excellent

Review

by Sunnyvale CONTRIBUTOR (53 Reviews)
August 21st, 2021 | 18 replies


Release Date: 08/20/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Shhhhhh, the bear is sleeping

I gave Fever Dreams a first listen, as will likely be the case for many, solely due to the engrossingly excellent album artwork. The trippy beauty of the cover gives little indication of the music it represents, but it draws one in nonetheless. Ultimately, I’m happy to report that the gorgeous cover actually represents the musical contents within, oddly enough, quite well.

I’ve since learned that Fever Dreams is the fifth full-length of an Ireland-based band, and that Villagers have traditionally been most firmly identified with indie folk (accompanied by a host of Bright Eyes comparisons). That descriptor really doesn’t easily characterize this latest effort though. While hard to define, Fever Dreams is a lush release enriched by psychedelic indie (a la My Morning Jacket’s recent works), soul, and sophisti-pop, with lesser touches of folk and jazz as well. The results are an intriguing mix of accessibility and experimentation, ending up a satisfying success despite notable flaws.

All ten songs on the album were recorded in the months immediately leading up to the global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since that time, the painstaking process of editing and mixing took place, and the results are impressive. Regardless of how one feels about the songs themselves, this is just a great-sounding album, with a lush sheen and sense of vibrancy encompassing the record from start to finish.

While every song has something to offer, there are a number of highlights on Fever Dreams which are easy to gush about. There’s “The First Day”, a buoyant number pumped full of smooth, soulful euphoria. “So Simpatico” is perhaps the album’s catchiest tune, a psych-pop song topping seven minutes and complete with a lengthy saxophone solo. Late in the tracklist, “Full Faith In Providence” is a rare moment in which the music recedes and the lyrics take center stage, and they certainly shine with heartfelt feeling.

There are myriad gripes which can be made about Fever Dreams . For one thing, the album begins with a seemingly unnecessary intro track of under a minute. For another, the record feels a bit ramshackle with its mix of poppy and more out-there (and dare we say, even “pretentious”) moments. Finally, even the quality of some of the songs is up for debate: while the lyrics are reliably good, they rarely are the focus of attention, and melodically a lot of these tunes feel somewhat pedestrian, even if it’s easy to ignore this due to the shimmer and shine of the immaculate arrangement and production.

However, despite these criticisms this is an album which, ultimately, just works. The disparate elements which Villagers have worked with end up coming together nicely and provide an enjoyably varied listen, therein lies the album’s genius. For all its weirdness, the core of Fever Dream is a spirit of romance and optimism which is hard to fully resist, a strange but inviting brew which recalls the aforementioned album art. Beyond that, I’m looking forward to spinning this through the warmer days of early autumn, as that time of year seems to be the perfect match for the album’s mellow mood.



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user ratings (15)
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
August 21st 2021


2904 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Wanted to get this album some attention, expect there may be a wide range of opinions on this one. Personally, it's really just hit the spot despite having some flaws.

WatchItExplode
August 21st 2021


9337 Comments


This one mostly didn't grab me although it had interesting production and there were some standout moments.

Digging: She Said Destroy - Succession

Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
August 21st 2021


2904 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@WatchItExplode, fair enough! Glad you gave it a try.

Purpl3Spartan
August 22nd 2021


1459 Comments


That is a big bear

Digging: Bilmuri - 400LB BACK SQUAT

Sowing
Moderator
August 22nd 2021


39293 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I was intrigued by the album art a few months ago and gave whatever singles were available at that time a spin. Nothing grabbed me, but maybe the full album is better. Nice review.

Digging: Stephen Sanchez - What Was, Not Now

Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
August 22nd 2021


2904 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Sowing! Definitely worth a listen, but no guarantees you'll like it as the singles are some of the highlight songs here

SitarHero
August 22nd 2021


13598 Comments


I don't think this would be my thing at all, but that's a great cover.

RogueNine
August 23rd 2021


4819 Comments


Art of the year. 😍

Parallels
August 23rd 2021


9621 Comments


agreed

better luck next time lorde

DoofDoof
August 23rd 2021


10544 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Bear necessity?

cryptside
August 23rd 2021


2406 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I will definitely check this out; I have been in a psychedelic indie mood lately. I love that cover art so much

Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
August 23rd 2021


2904 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Certainly a contender for best album art of the year, agreed. The music doesn't quite measure up but I like it too!



@cryptside, hope you enjoy!

Atari
Staff Reviewer
August 23rd 2021


26852 Comments


whoah, cryptside sighting!

cheers for the review Sunny, you've become quite the consistent writer



Digging: Patterson Hood - Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance

Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
August 23rd 2021


2904 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Atari!



I've had more music-listening time than ever in the last year, and I've always enjoyed writing about music, so here I am...

cryptside
August 23rd 2021


2406 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Hey Atari! Hope you're well!



@Sunnyvale, I dig this, but not quite as much as you! Like you, I think I like the singles the most. The production is immaculate.

Sunnyvale
Contributing Reviewer
August 23rd 2021


2904 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@cryptside, glad you gave this a go. Can't say I usually notice much about production one way or another, but on this album it really stood out (in a good way).

cryptside
August 23rd 2021


2406 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It's just so dreamy and ethereal sounding. It definitely pulls you in with that.

MOYA
August 31st 2021


2 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hi sunnyvale. Nice review. My girlfriend has been following villagers for a while and she introduced me to this. I'm not sure about their earlier albums, but I definitely recommend the track Trick of the Light.



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