Album Notes - Villagers - Fever Dreams

Album Notes - Villagers - Fever Dreams

August 20, 2021

It takes a village to raise a child, the old saying goes. If that child is Conor O'Brien, consider those dues more than paid forward. 

Villagers may be the name of the group, but within lies a single resident: O'Brien. Since his debut under the moniker in 2010, the (more or less) one-man band has slowly but surely evolved, the output simultaneously increasing in quality. For a songwriter whose primary persuasion was folk, each release from the Irishman places ever more attention on the sonic dynamics cloaked around his compositions. Although his previous effort, 2018's The Art of Pretending to Swim, still best combines those two aspects, Fever Dreams further broadens O'Brien's tonal whims. 

Adding to the horns and strings adorning efforts past, splices of pitched-down vocals, occasional sci-fi-evoking effects, and moments reminiscent of warped vinyl are woven into Villagers' fifth LP. It all coalesces on "Circles in the Firing Line," unlike anything in O'Brien's catalog. The brief upbeat closing guitar solo and momentarily punk outro may portend his next effort. For now, Irish melancholy remains the through line in a career solidified with each impressive, expanding release.