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February 2020
Album review

Villagers - The Art Of Pretending To Swim

O'Brien has you eating out of the palm of his hand.
Label: Domino
Released: 21st September 2018
Rating: ★★★★
Villagers - The Art Of Pretending To Swim
Published: 9:13 pm, September 18, 2018Words: Ciaran Steward.

‘A Trick of The Light’ is one of the best songs of 2018, complete with rhythms, textures and harmonies that simply ooze genius. It’s undoubtedly the stand out track on Villagers fourth album, though there's plenty of joy to be had in letting the album wash over you. The rest of the album may not quite live up to the dizzying heights of this stunning single yet there’s something so impressive about the way there always seems to be a thousand things going on at once while leaving plenty of space for your mind to venture in between the instruments as Conor O’Brien and band show their prowess when it comes to the finer details of a release.

Full of sonic sparkles, 'The Art Of Pretending To Swim' feels so light upon your ear as if it were a hamster with a helium balloon keeping it ever-so-gently teetering on the ground. Listen out in particular for the very definite piano on 'Long Time Waiting' which really settles in nicely at the deep end on an album which has plenty of creativity buzzing around the higher reaches. This isn't a batch of three-minute pop songs it's a more measured and patient approach to songwriting, wrapping itself up with emotionally-fuelled closer 'Ada' which leaves you feeling as though you've come to the end of some beautifully hypnotic experience.

And at the heart of it all is that tender voice, whispering stories in your ear that'll impress you and leave you wondering if all this that surrounds you can indeed be true. O'Brien has you eating out of the palm of his hand as he spins such luminous yarns you're left with your mouth firmly agape. Four albums in and Villagers are still going strong, smoother than ever and with plenty of tricks up their sleeves.

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