There aren’t many albums that you really look forward to, but Villagers’ Awayland is one of them. I loved the first album, but have seen them play once in Bristol and twice at festivals since. They’re much more visceral than the Mercury Prize acoustic introspection they might have been tagged with, and the set featuring the new album at the End of the Road Festival last September made me feel a bit like A A Milne and the bears in the zoo. I could quite happily bypass other bands and just sit outside their cage for a bit. Conor O’Brien also achieves that rare detachment, as if sideways or above of the world’s noise.
And then there’s this affirmation of how great it is to hold music as a physical object. HMV include these postcards, which makes it all a package of earthly pleasures. The artwork’s beautiful – kaleidoscopic geometric peaks of rock and mountain rise from landscapes, like all the invisible static of life in our century. (Artwork is credited to Conor O’Brien, Matthew Cooper with Rory McGuigan.)
Here’s a wander through Paris with an acoustic version of The Waves.