Villagers -‘Darling Arithmetic.’ (Domino)
The third album from Villagers, Darling Arithmetic, is once, again, a gorgeous, well-crafted affair. Following on from Becoming A Jackal and Awayland, Conor O’Brien has come up with another, quieter triumph. Though live Villagers perform as a band, the album was written, recorded, produced and mixed by O’Brien at his home in Malahide, north of Dublin (and where The Edge of U2 once lived, fact fans).
For many artists, starting an album with a song as gentle as ‘Courage’ might be a risky proposition, but in the hands of Conor O’Brien, it comes off well, for what is an intimate, but by no means soft ride. O’Brien has started talking more openly about being gay, and as much of this album is about love, it’s also about learning to love yourself. On Courage he tells us ‘It took a little time to get where I wanted, It took a little time to get free / It took a little time to be honest,It took a little time to be me.’ And for anyone growing up -regardless of age, class, gender, sexuality etc.. and trying to figure out who and what they are in the world -these words surely ring true.
He takes on the homophobes on ‘Hot Scary Summer’ and with titles like ‘Little Arithmetic’ and ‘So Naive’ you might wonder if this is going to end up getting to be an uneasy ride. But the talent of O’Brien’s songwriting, lyrics and music, is that this is a world that is open to all. It’s been great to see Villagers’ profile continue to rise over the past five years and I see no reason why this shouldn’t continue on the strength of this album.
Darling Arithmetic is out now on Domino