Albums

Album Review: Villagers – ‘Darling Arithmetic’

Villagers return with their third album, Darling Arithmetic, crafted primarily by Conor O’Brien and recorded in his own home in Ireland. Made up of a selection of stripped-back songs that what were meant to be demos, it’s a different sound to its Mercury nominated predecessor, Awayland. Though don’t be fooled, the 9 track album’s emotionally raw sound means any love for O’Brien’s Villagers is far from being faltered.  

When faced with heartache most of us probably turn to vodka chocolate and lots of feeling sorry for ourselves to get through those dark days. Luckily Conor O’Brien turns it into a stunning album. Dropping the usual wonderfully poetic and metaphor laced lyrics of Villagers, Darling Arithmetic adopts a more open and honest style. The words of O’Brien stay with you long after the final notes of the album come to an unwanted end.

It stacks up extremely well against its more musically complex predecessors

The initial track ‘Courage’ really sets the feel for the album, nothing fancy – just a simple guitar loop accompanied by the hauntingly mesmerising vocals of O’Brien. The emotionally ripe lyrics set hairs on end and may make the more emotional of us well up a tad.

A marked changed to the more musically layered and complex Becoming a Jackal and Awayland, Conor played all the music himself when recording this album. What is impressive about this record is that the stripped back, more simplistic style doesn’t cause a feeling that it is lacking anything. It stacks up extremely well against its more musically complex predecessors.

Darling Arithmetic explores strong emotions, without being screamingly obvious about it. A result of the skilfully magnificent lyrical and musical writing of Conor O’Brien. The title track perfectly deals with post break up feelings in a pensive style. In fact, ‘pensive’ perfectly describes Darling Arithmetic. The album is an exploration and portrayal of emotion and passion in a distinctly Villagers style. Darling Arithmetic is thoughtful and hauntingly dreamy. It works stunningly as a collection of powerful yet delicate stripped down songs.

The pairing of the acoustic tones with the masterfully crafted lyrics makes it a truly moving record

This Third album from Villagers reminds us of why we first fell in love with O’Brien’s music. The pairing of the acoustic tones with the masterfully crafted lyrics makes it a truly moving record. Darling Arithmetic is raw, short and if you blink you’ll miss it, but as the famous quote goes ‘always leave them wanting more’ – which Conor O’Brien certainly does with this stunning album.

Darling Arithmetic available from 13th April

Villagers playing Nottingham Glee Club 26th April

Chloe Loizou

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