Villagers - Becoming A Jackal (Domino)

Gary O'Sullivan | Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Villagers - Becoming A Jackal (Domino)

The young Conor O'Brien first picked up a guitar aged 12 and later formed a band with a collection of other multi-instrumentalists called The Immediate. Now, after a painful break up and a number of years later, Conor has struck out alone with Villagers, and things have taken a darker turn.

Conor has a taste for visual imagery, creating cityscapes and drawing on themes of desolation that you will find either revelatory or self-indulgent. A subtle strumming pattern and a quiet passenger of a bassline play in the background, allowing lyrics like "Every implement was leading to you" to hang in the ether.

Conor's voice has a strained, trembling quality throughout that adds resonance to the lyrical content. At times sounding like Roy Orbison and at others like Rufus Wainwright, Conor is at his best when things go quiet around him, proclaiming aloud to the listener with equal force and intimacy.

There is an overriding effort throughout the song to remain sedate, to resist the temptation to build slowly and thrash the acoustic guitar to within an inch of its life at the climax. Mood is the dominant factor at work here, and it's present in abundance.

Rating: 4/5