Villagers – Where Have You Been All My Life?CultureMusicAlbum reviews
An imaginative folk-pop façade lies at the front of Villagers’ “new” album Where Have You Been All My Life?, an anthology of re-recorded material from their three previous albums. Accomplished in just a single day at RAK Studios in London, this record’s mature musical narrative sees the Irish five-piece breathing new life into their old songs with clean melodies, serene harmonies, intimate acoustic textures and arrangements.
Featuring on his debut album Becoming a Jackal, opening number Set the Tigers Free treads through a more tranquil atmosphere than its original spirit. Conor J O’Brien’s fragile vocals are cocooned by the pure air from the backing vocals, stirred up by a slower tempo, billowing organ and synth harmonies. Equally alluring is My Lighthouse, where the addition of pacific synth harmonies ripple through at a sedate pace and warm brass sonorities amplify the sumptuous ending of the track. Memoir is particularly effective, with the quirks of its B-side origins retained and enriched with a mahogany-tinged double bass line and a well-crafted authentic folk-pop sensation.
While there are tracks from earlier record Darling Arithmetic that are barely embellished enough to make a considerable impact, The Waves and That Day stand out as the most drastically reworked. From its original electronic incarnation, The Waves unwinds with a stripped-back arrangement on glittering acoustic guitar, rich piano chords and feathered drumbeats, gently orchestrating a slow-brewing crescendo where O’Brien’s clamouring vocals and heavenly organ-like synths amplify the final statement. The new interpretation of That Day takes a more placid approach than its euphoric predecessor with silky textures and harmonies from the guitar, harp and synth pad, and a plaintive trumpet companion.
An emblem of Villagers’ blooming success, Where Have You Been All My Life? is an eloquent album of fresh simplicity and acoustic beauty. Navigating through this nostalgic journey, one begins to wonder whether perhaps these songs were naturally made to be expressions of clean and sophisticated folk.
Where Have You Been All My Life? is released on 8th January 2016, for further information or to order the album visit here.
Watch the video for The Waves here: