Villagers - 'Darling Arithmetic'

8/10

Having had both of his previous albums 'Becoming A Jackal' and 'Awayland' nominated for the illustrious Mercury Music Prize, singer-songwriter Conor O'Brien is going for the hat-trick with his latest effort 'Darling Arithmetic'. With previous records being pitched as a full band, O'Brien has now adopted the Villagers name as his own solo project, helping gather the focus onto himself and creating a far more unified sound than previous works.

Taking the rich and beautiful history of Irish folk music and giving it a modern twist has been the hallmark of the Villagers sound, but it seems that this time he looked to expand his influences to include a mix of modern Bob Dylan-esque storytelling and a general pace that reflects even more contemporary acts like Arcade Fire. The result is an eclectic and diverse collection of tracks that look to add a process of evolution into the band's sound. There is a transition of intentions happening on this new record and it suits O'Brien songwriting down to a tee.

While fans of his previous work will still appreciate what he has created here, it is definitely sounding like a band looking to create a fresh start within their musical direction. But regardless of whether you are familiar with his older albums, 'Darling Arithmetic' is a bold and beautiful record just yearning for that next Mercury Prize nomination.

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