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Villagers - Darling Arithmetic Album Review


"Darling Arithmetic" is the third album from Conor O’Brien’s Villagers. The two previous albums were both nominated for the coveted Mercury Prize but failed to win. Upon listening to “Darling Arithmetic”, it could be third time lucky as the album is a masterpiece in song writing and musicianship. This outing was recorded completely solo and is definitely more of an autobiography than the previous work.

The album begins with lead single “Courage” which is a beautiful, uplifting song about believing in yourself and having the courage to try things without your ego getting in the way. Conor’s delivery of the word courage is quite entertaining too and will have you shouting the word with him every time.

Conor has definitely taken some inspiration from the likes of Elliott Smith and Damien Rice and this shows on “Dawning On Me”. The finger picking guitar playing really stands out here.

“Hot Scary Summer” has a Conor Oberst narrative style to it. The song tackles the homophobia that Conor has had to endure throughout his life and is told in an autobiographical way.

The only song on the album that doesn’t quite have the same standard as the others is “The Soul Serene”. The chorus just does’t seem to fit with the rest of the album. This however doesn’t make it a bad song, it just doesn’t reach the very high bar that they set with the rest of the album.

The title track “Darling Arithmetic” features some chillingly awesome piano playing which accompanies the vocals perfectly to result in probably the best song on the album.

“Excuse me while I die” are the opening lyrics to “No One To Blame” which is just so heartbreakingly formidable. It’s a love song unlike any other love song you have heard before.

It’s easy to see why Villagers albums are constantly being met with critical acclaim. It’s impossible to deny that these songs are anything short of spectacular.

Villagers are currently on a European tour but will return to Ireland for five shows at the end of May.

Standout Tracks: Darling Arithmetic, No One To Blame & Dawning On Me.

By Dave McMahon


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