If I had to describe Awayland by Dublin, Ireland’s Villagers with one word, the word would be either “sophisticated” or “imaginative”. Why sophisticated? Connor O’Brian, the frontman of the band, has quite the mellow tone throughout the album’s 11-track span. Everything sonically meshes together in a proper way, similar to that of pop music, without any of the intricacies (or lack thereof) behind pop music: it’s all organic. As far as “imaginative” is concerned, the album is as naturally black and white as it can be within the realm of indie music. The electronic elements also throw the listener for a loop, yet blends in perfectly.
The album begins calmly and eloquently with “My Lighthouse”, a track that features one acoustic guitar and a few layered vocals. “Judgment Call” sounds very reminiscent of Yo La Tengo, instrumentally with its minimalistic approach. “The Bell” closes with a very experimental sequence that loops, echoes, and multiplies O’Brien’s voice into others to make for one of the most experimental tracks on the album. “Passing A Message” makes me think of a modern indie-pop tinged Lou Reed in the slightest of ways. The album’s closer, “Rhythm Composer” has a pleasant Jazz/Blues feel to it… and then it ends with barn animal sounds and a delayed electronic piano.
While no two tracks on this album sound the same, few are likely to actually cling to memory. There is a heavy use of every production trick in the book throughout the album’s 43 minutes, and somehow nothing quite has lasting power from two to three listens to the album’s entirety.
On the other hand, the essence of the album is the creative boundaries being pushed by group. If it weren’t for bands like Villagers who exhibit the willingness to push forward and to try new things within their genre, music would be boring. Progression is key, as long as it’s appropriate.
Not much more can really be said about Villagers’ second full-length release other than it leaves me anticipating the group’s third album, preferably with just as much consistency, yet with more lyrical direction and depth.
Reviewed by: Adrian Garza (Twitter)