Villagers – ‘Darling Arithmetic’
Villagers – ‘Darling Arithmetic’

ALBUM REVIEW : Villagers – ‘Darling Arithmetic’

Villagers tour 2015

Dubliner Conor O’Brien (aka ‘Villagers’) follows 2010’s ‘Becoming a Jackal’ and 2013’s ‘{Awayland}’ with an altogether quieter and stripped back affair for LP number three ‘Darling Arithmetic’. As one would expect the seductive and polished song-writing remain but the fuller production and session musicians take a back seat on this new release.

O’Brien leads from the front with ‘Darling Arithmetic’. Almost every aspect of the LP has been touched by the artist; from its original song-writing, the minimalistic approach to production and finally to the myriad of instruments he plays on the release. The culmination of these factors would point to, what would appear to be, an extremely personal creation and to one that seemingly requires nothing that would over-complicate the various messages recited throughout.

The encouraging news for fans of the aforementioned LP’s is that the wonderful melodies and attention to detail remain. The overall volume of the album has been tapered back but the ‘Villagers’ sound is still very much evident. The entire feel of the album is one of calmness and repose and, with the exception of ‘Little Bigot’, there appears little requirement to introduce unnecessary instrumentation or to disturb the stillness we are presented with.

Certainly, the piano and hushed vocals feature heavily throughout this softened nine-track. An occasional acoustic guitar also adds to the overwhelming sensation you’re listening to a demo rather than a completed studio release; ‘Courage’ more than any gives off an impression of this.

The album’s stand-out moment comes in the form of ‘No One To Blame’. It oozes melody and beautiful acoustic instrumentation while also containing a likability that doesn’t necessarily resonate everywhere else amongst its musical stable-mates.

There is every chance ‘Darling Arithmetic’ will feature heavily amongst the end-of-term awards. However, while it obviously contains moments of beauty and accomplished song-writing it lacks some of the warmth of its predecessors. The absence of pace also starts to become extremely noticeable and you find yourself mentally wishing for a stronger, louder sound … if only for a minute or two.

‘Darling Arithmetic’ is out now, via Domino Recordings.

The full track-listing for ‘Darling Arithmetic’ is as follows…


‘Everything I am is Yours’

‘Dawning on Me’

‘Hot Scary Summer’

‘The Soul Serene’

‘Darling Arithmetic’

‘Little Bigot’

‘No One to Blame’

‘So Naïve’

You can see ‘Villagers’ live at one of the following venues…

19th April 2015 – Epstein Theatre, Liverpool

20th April 2015 – Haden Freeman Concert Hall, Manchester

21st April 2015 – City Varieties, Leeds

23rd April 2015 – Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

24th April 2015 – The Gate, Cardiff

26th April 2015 – The Glee Club, Nottingham

27th April 2015 – Edinburgh Pleasance, Edinburgh

28th April 2015 – Oran Mor, Glasgow

1st May 2015 – Barbican, London

4th May 2015 – Café de la Danse, Paris

5th May 2015 – Le Grand Mix, Tourcoing

7th May 2015 – TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht

8th May 2015 – De Duif, Amsterdam

9th May 2015 – Rockhal, Esch Sur Alzette

10th May 2015 – Karlstorbahnhof, Heidelberg

12th May 2015 – Kulturkirche Altona, Hamburg

13th May 2015 – Gebaeude 9, Cologne

14th May 2015 – Babylon, Berlin

16th May 2015 – Doornroosje, Nijmegen

17th May 2015 – Les Nuits Botanique, Brussels

20th May 2015 – Olympia Theatre, Dublin

21st May 2015 – Olympia Theatre, Dublin

23rd May 2015 – Cork Opera House, Cork

24th May 2015 – Big Top, Limerick

25th May 2015 – Mandela Hall, Belfast

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Villagers tour