12 plays of Christmas – Villagers

  1. Villagers – Darling Arithmetic

Having filled my pun quota with just the title lets crack on. 12 beautiful, crazy, wonderful records from the last year start here with Ireland’s brightest diamond: Villagers. Given that this is their third record they’re hardly unknown but this latest cut marks their finest hour yet.

Personal yet ubiquitous, music about love and heartbreak has the power either to destroy or to bore. It’s not exactly virgin territory for any budding musician and it takes bravery and craft to make something which truly makes you look up from your coffee and stare absently-mindedly into the middle distance for any period of time. Villagers almost made me crash my car. The first time I heard Hot, Scary Summer it nearly ended in an up-close and personal experience with a hedge-row and, possibly, ensuing ditch.

Connor O’Brien has a gift for words. Couplets twirl across the floor like ballroom dancers in a dream. A coin spins on it’s edge in slow musician:

Remember kissing on the cobblestones
In the heat of the night
And all the pretty young homophobes
Looking out for a fight

We got good at pretending
And then pretending got us good
We’ve always been up against it
But now it’s sad to see
We’re up against each other in this hot scary summer

The closest reference point here is Deus. While this record lacks the imagination and, perhaps, ambition of In a Bar Under the Sea, I’d like to think that the title is a nod to that great band’s great song from that album, Little Arithmetics. There’s certainly something in the quiet beauty of the vocal delivery that recalls Tom Barman’s hushed tenor:

The whole record is this level of marvellous. A sparse, humble little beast of great emotional power and subtle, graceful artistry. You can pick it up from Domino in the UK, or if you really feel the need to hear more first you could do worse than stream it from Spotify. Lock yourself away for 36 minutes and give heartbreak a chance.

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