Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
From: Dublin, Ireland
Album: Becoming a Jackal
Style: Indie folk
Labels: Any Other City (2008-2009), Domino Records (2009-present)
Listen to: “The Pact (I’ll be Your Fever),” “Becoming a Jackal,” “Twenty Seven Strangers”
Villagers is fronted by Conor J. O’Brien, who wrote the songs for their debut album Becoming a Jackal to sound “like someone whispering in your ear, but also to get the epic-ness at times.” The album has a sense of frantic confession, enhanced by dramatically timed percussion as well as subtle string and organ arrangements.
O’Brien’s lyrics are dark, and they are at their best in hymns such as “Becoming a Jackal,” where he imagines his transformation into a wild beast.
However, O’Brien does have his lighter moments in songs such as “The Pact,” a simple yet well-crafted love song that pleads, “Well, you be my master, and I’ll be your fever.” Calm is restored in “Twenty Seven Strangers,” a moving tale of the ordinary set to a lightly strummed guitar and a hint of percussion.
The poetic darkness of O’Brien’s folk will capture your heart if you like singer-songwriters with soft, soothing voices and a hint of edginess.