VILLAGERS play Sidedoor and the Great Hall on June 15 as part of NXNE. See listing. Rating: NNN
On their second album, Villagers have taken a quirky, noisily orchestral approach to indie folk. Cheerier and more robust than their gloomy Mercury Prize-nominated debut, it flirts with electronics and often swells with ambitious arrangements.
Hailing from Ireland, Villagers are technically a five-piece, but singer/songwriter Conor O'Brien is both the composer and creative force. His restrained, clipped articulation conveys tepid hope and sadness as his lyrics weave a nautical theme. The Waves starts with steady Morse code beeping, with O'Brien's voice later echoing behind guitar feedback and a crashing beat, sounding very much like a perfect storm. On Nothing Arrived, an upbeat, sunny piano has the sound buoyed up and bobbing again, but it ends in a similar dissonant squall; O'Brien never gets too pop-happy. Occasionally a lick of whimsical Irish poetry sneaks in (Earthly Pleasures), but lyrically O'Brien's going for something more vague and profound.
Top track: Nothing Arrived