Vil­lagers

Mojo (UK) - - Filter Albums - Danny Ec­cle­ston

★★★★ The Art Of Pre­tend­ing To Swim DOMINO. CD/DL/LP Conor O’Brien di­als down the in­ten­sity. The lis­tener reaps the re­wards.

Since his Be­com­ing A Jackal de­but in 2010, Conor O’Brien has ex­plored elec­tron­ica (on 2013’s {Away­land}) and ad­dressed his sex­u­al­ity on 2015’s largely acous­tic Dar­ling Arith­metic. The Dubliner’s fourth al­bum of orig­i­nal ma­te­rial is his most var­ied son­i­cally (strings and brass are quirk­ily de­ployed), yet is per­versely his least fussy, happy to let a sim­ple melody be car­ried by his dis­tinc­tively sweet, slightly prim dic­tion. Long Time Wait­ing is a cool groove that could go on for­ever; the clos­ing Ada an epic swoon; sub­tle soul and dance el­e­ments en­twine or­gan­i­cally through­out. And while tor­tured lyri­cist syn­drome is in ev­i­dence (lapsed be­liever O’Brien is pre­oc­cu­pied with va­ri­eties of “faith”) he ac­knowl­edges that mu­sic can be an “anaes­thetic for the jour­ney” as well as a fer­vid epiphany, and for once the clev­er­ness-sig­nalling feels se­condary on his most easy-to-en­joy al­bum to date.

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