Villagers Awayland review

Villagers, AwaylandVillagers released their second album, {Awayland}, earlier in March (2013) and instantly it’s another contender for Mercury and Novello awards. Bringing together alt-folk, psych love, pop, rock and a world beat rhythm, it’s a stunning album that works its way up wildly before slowing down to close it all out. With stand-out singles like The Waves and Nothing Arrived, as well as a number of other pieces of genius on the album, it’s one of the best releases of the year.

Starting out with classic folk on My Lighthouse, Awayland begins with simple beauty in the same way it will end, but in between is a vivid array of musical innovation. Earthly Pleasures is a faster take on alt-folk guitar featuring the kind of rhyming combinations, esoteric chat and poetic verse that you’d expect more from Heaney or Joyce than you would from a modern single. The rhythm is class pulling you into the crazed folds of the song and there’s a good nudge of rock tones later in the track to crunch things up.

Caribbean and Afro-beats shake up The Waves with beep infused rhythm and a brilliantly experimental psych pop beginning that breaks up in a similarly brilliant psych-rock freak out ending. There’s more unfathomable lyrics to wrap your head around, but if you can pick up the gist then you’re probably on the right lines in general.

Judgement Calls has a little less impact, but it leads in well to the folk-pop excellence of Nothing Arrived. There’s a micro folk-rock freak out to look forward here too, adding to the force of nature theme that’s a big part of the album. The Bell, however, brings in a Mexican-folk feel with the addition of surf guitar notes towards the end.

The title track starts the turning tide back to the beauty that began the album with a series of interweaving guitar melodies overhung with violin high notes. Although, there’s a cool backtrack on Passing a Message, which slices and funks up elements of the verse from The Waves confusing the two in a weird lost track.

{Awayland} finishes off with three progressively slower tracks, starting with Grateful Song which begins as a simple folk guitar track, but changes direction on you part way through. Wide bass lines pick up the slack with more violin beauty and a mad interlude before random synth noises join in the fray.

In A Newfound Land You Are Free turns to piano and acoustic melodies running into the random mesh of Rhythm Composer. The only negative is the donkey noise at the end, which is a bit like the seal squeals at the end of Cashier No 9’s To the Death of Fun.

We love {Awayland} and all that it feels like it stands for. It’s got experimentation at its heart with attention to lyrical detail, great rhythm and a stylish combination of sounds. Villagers deserve a lot of radio play and all the awards we think they’re going to get for the album.

Villagers, Awayland review: 4.5/5