Not Forgotten: Villagers – Becoming a Jackal

They’ve taken their time about it over the last two decades, yet slowly but surely Domino Records has established itself as a sign of quality, much like Elektra had become in the late 60s. With acts like Franz Ferdinand, Arctic Monkeys and u.n.p.o.c. on the roster, it’s evident the label has an ear for talent to the point where you don’t actually need to hear the music before buying the album. If it’s on Domino, it’s almost always worth handing over your hard-earned to obtain it.

Villagers, are in reality just Conor J. O’Brien, a vaguely bohemian looking bloke with a sharp ear for melody, a pleasantly tuneful voice. He’s the kind of bloke that even a cynical chap like me has a grudging respect for. True, it’s fey indie-folk-rock, but it happens to be deeply enjoyable fey indie-folk-rock, the sort that hip independent film makers will inevitably discover at some point in the next few years and use to soundtrack their equally hip independent films.

Musically this isn’t anything that hasn’t been done before, but at least it’s done well. O’Brien never over-eggs the emotion vocally and he’s certainly an adept guitar player, especially when it comes to the deftly strummed rhythm. Song wise, there’s much to admire, with my personal favourites being the title tracks and “Set the Tigers Free”. With material like this and supporting Elbow a few years, it seems that Villagers, are being primed for a breakthrough of some kind in the next few years, which will inevitably either make or break O’Brien’s career. If he continues in the same furrow, I can see a solid and enjoyable future for him, but there’s also a distinct danger of him attempting to go a little more radio-friendly and losing his way, though on the evidence available on Becoming a Jackal and its well received follow up {Awayland}, that does seem increasingly unlikely.

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