REVIEW: Villagers – ‘The Waves’ Single

Well, that wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.” The exact same words that I uttered when Jimmy Saville came to tea and also when I listened to the latest single by Conor O’Brien’s brainchild, ‘Villagers’. Those who are familiar with this act will immediately credit O’Brien’s wonderfully pure voice, his potent lyrics and the often modest acoustic backing that loyally shadows him.

Hence you can understand why when I first listened to ‘The Waves’, that I immediately grew with concern; it rather uncharacteristically chooses to ignore many of the main conventions which supported Villagers’ debut release ‘Becoming A Jackal’ (2010) so well.  The electronic pulse which faithfully sets the pace for the entire track undoubtedly shifts the focus away from O’Brien’s voice and most importantly, his often enigmatic lyrics. However, as this track reaches the halfway mark, it’s clear that ‘The Waves’ is steadily beginning to build a sense of impending doom; as the screech of the electric guitar sustains longer and longer, it feels as though you’re being dangled on the edge of a cliff by a shoelace before O’Brien eventually flings you into the fathoms below. Once it grows on you enough, I assure you that you’ll want to take that plunge again and again.

The second track ‘Memoir’ is one which has been a regular part of Villagers live set-list when touring their debut album and it’s pleasing that it’s finally been immortalised as the B-side to this single. Originally written for Charlotte Gainsbourg, ‘Memoir’ is perfect testimony to all of the strengths which were first exhibited throughout ‘Becoming A Jackal’.

All in all, it’s a solid first release from their forthcoming album ‘Awayland’ which is set to be released on January the 14th 2013; ‘The Waves’ more than fulfils the only purpose singles seem to have these days… to act as a flyer for the album. I’m intrigued to say the least. 4/5

Agree or disagree?