Villagers – aka Dublin songwriter Conor O’Brien – have spent a decade crafting a deep catalogue of anguished romance that’s part Cass McCombs, part Paul Simon. However, since the early gush of acclaim (the first two albums were Mercury-nominated) there’s been some creative turbulence – 2015’ s Darling Arithmetic, in particular, was jarringly sparse. Here O’Brien tacks back to the glory days by offering a rich, maximalist setting for a set of ruminations on faith. Samples and DIY electronics entwine with a skittering musicality to bathe songs such as Again and Hold Me Down in a sumptuous intimacy that’s reminiscent of Sparklehorse at their most fragile. It’s an impressive reminder of what made him so special in the first place. ★★★★ JAMES OLDHAM Listen To: Again | Hold Me Down | A Trick Of The Light
“Back to the glory days”: Villagers’ Conor O’Brien puts creative wobbles to rest.