Darling Arithmetic is the third studio album from Villagers. Darling Arithmetic follows on from Conor O’Brien’s critically acclaimed and Mercury Music Prize nominated pair of albums, Becoming A Jackal and Awayland. This time O’Brien will set our hearts aflutter with a beautiful set of songs about love and relationships.
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If stuck then think of Villagers as a kind of understated and less mawkish Bright Eyes. The world is a complex thing and we’ll always help you with a quick pigeon hole you know.
Ol’ quiver voice is back with another album which opens in the most spectacular style with ‘Courage’ surely one of his best songs to date. This is the type of song that better men than me have wasted useless words on. It tugs at every conceivable heartstring and has a chorus that you’ll remember forever. Lovely. And that’s about it. It would be lazy of me to just dismiss the rest of the album with a swift wave of the hand but nothing after hits with the same hurt. The music is pleasant, nicely produced and the words have obviously been crafted with an expert pen. Although songs like ‘Everything I am Is Yours’ are easy on the ear they just kind of drift along on two chords - for daring they add a piano solo and thats about as exciting as it gets. While ‘Dawning On Me’ has a lovely hand picked guitar playing a downward spiralling melody ‘Hot Scary Summer’ and ‘The Soul Serene’ let the album slide a bit too far into the middle of the road.
Fans of ‘Once’ will probably enjoy this kind of straightforward heart on sleeve poetic music. It’s very pleasant and probably suffers a bit from the best bit being over after the first three minutes.
8/10 Paul Customer review, 24th April 2015
Darling Arithmetic is the Villagers third studio album following on from 2010’s Becoming a Jackal and 2013’s Awayland, the album when I first became aware of them. Both those albums were shortlisted for the Mercury Prize.
This third album is all the work of the lead singer, Conor O’Brien, who wrote, played, recorded and produced the album at his own home.
If Awayland was big and bold, Darling Arithmetic is quieter, gentler, sparser. Conor’s plaintive voice hovers over the instruments that slink into the background, propping up his honest words on love, relationships and sexuality. There is a simplicity to the album, lyrics are direct and unambiguous, there is no complicated word play or allegorical statements. What you hear, is what you get.
The first track and first single from the album, Courage, clearly points the direction the album is going in. It’s full of heartbreaking treasures.
He’s at his best on tracks like Hot Scary Summer, a song of recollection, of times lost. “Remember kissing on the cobblestone” he sings ” in the heat of the night, and all the pretty young homophobes, looking out for a fight.” It’s wonderful refrain.
Little Bigot is a beautiful riposte to the negativity Conor has experienced about his homosexuality and is slightly more upbeat in tempo than other songs.
Everything I am is yours is beautifully crisp and clean. A song that acknowledges that we change but love continues. “I can not control, these ever-changing ways, so how can I be sure, the feeling will remain, it will always change. But everything I am – is yours!” To me it speaks of the best of relationships in that whatever happens we will always belong to them, love them, no matter what.
It’s a lovely thing.
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