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Villagers: Again
Reviewed by uhsting on 10 Oct 2018
If I didn't listen to that week of New Music Friday, I would have totally missed this song but what a gem it is!

Villagers is an Irish indie folk band from Dublin signed to Domino Records. They are comprised of Conor O'Brien (lead singer/guitarist), Danny Snow (bass), Cormac Curran (keyboards), Gwion Llewelyn (drums, flugelhorn) and Mali Llywelyn (harp). Their albums were positively raved and even won the Choice Music Prize. Their lyrics have long be described as "an eerie sense of disquiet". "Again" is part of their latest album "The Art of Pretending to Swim" which reached no. 2 in Irish Albums Chart.

I never heard this band Villagers until this song was played in Spotify. It impresses me a lot with the use of instrumentation and a totally unique song structure it has. This song could be divided into 4 parts which play the same subject. It might sound boring as you might expect 4 roughly the same instrumentation but it isn't. They are 4 very different parts. First part you only have the classical piano, classical guitar, mellow bass drum and hi-hats, the voice and the violins to be included later; second part you add in the syncopated synth with the voice singing throughout the entire part and also a new percussion which I couldn't identify with my limited knowledge of percussion; the third part is pretty interesting as you add in the dirty trombones (or flugelhorn? Doesn't sound like one though) and interestingly the ambient chirping of birds; the fourth part you have an epic intro with lots of synth and birds chirping, and the trombones playing a higher pitch (that dissonant tonic major seventh resolving to diminished seventh on the leading note is really satisfying, forgive me if I got the music theory wrong). You overall get a mellow and satisfying feeling which I really enjoy. The chirping of birds makes the song standout from the rest and the inclusion of trombones lift up the song a lot, making it sound majestic.

Lyrically nothing is worth noting but the theme is not about those very cliche love messages - just very simple: letting oneself go with the flow and feel it. I quite like the lightweight vocals here which suits perfectly with the music. It starts off with minor then modulating to relative major in tonality, then it becomes mystical and minor in terms of tonality when the singer sings "Alone again", adding lots of color to the song. Conor O'Brien, lead of Villagers, wrote this song as a response to his previous albums which were "sparse and confessional" and he would like to find the fun in musical arrangement and texturally making music exciting. I agree he has achieved it in this song and to be honest an over-achievement actually.

Could it be one the best songs of the year? I seriously think so with lots of uniqueness and how things work together as a whole in this song. I have Youtube's New Indie playlist by Indie Music - Topic saved and mostly the new additions are from Domino Records and they either sound creative but flat or too innovatively dissonant. This is some of the rarely excellent pieces from the record label. Well done to Villagers.

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Artist: Villagers
Label: Domino Records
Release Date: 9 Sep 2018
Genre: Indie
Type: Single

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