{Awayland} - Villagers
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Generally favorable reviews - based on 27 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 16 Ratings

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  • Summary: The second full-length release from the Irishman Conor J. O'Brien was self-produced and includes his touring band: James Byrne, Cormac Curran, Tommy McLaughlin, and Danny Snow.
  • Record Label: Domino
  • Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Indie Folk
  • More Details and Credits »
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. 100
    With results both as pleasurable, as inventive and as absorbing as these, there seems no danger that the impact of {Awayland} will be merely momentary.
  2. Jan 14, 2013
    {Awayland} is a treasure trove of an album, brimming with ideas, most of which work and all of which, at the very least, prove that O'Brien is not simply another little-boy-lost lamenting the fact his parents wouldn't pass him the salt, but a songwriter of real note.
  3. May 10, 2013
    {Awayland} is far more confident than 2010's Becoming A Jackal, its vision more ambitious, its poetry more conflicted, its melodies more complex, its execution more polished. [No. 98, p.61]
  4. Jan 14, 2013
    The dazzling imagery comes with a rollercoasting voyage through acoustic soul, brass and--a new development--electronica.
  5. Feb 12, 2013
    As an exercise in artfully executed pop maximalism, {Awayland} is unquestionably a treat.... All he needs now is something worth saying.
  6. Jun 6, 2013
    Occasionally a lick of whimsical Irish poetry sneaks in (Earthly Pleasures), but lyrically O’Brien’s going for something more vague and profound.
  7. Jan 14, 2013
    To its credit, {Awayland} rarely comes across as false, but O'Brien's affinity for cleverness over clarity ensures it rarely comes across in any real way.

See all 27 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. May 1, 2013
    No doubt the album of the year, and thus far, album of the decade. {Awayland} immerses the listener in a sonic bliss that sets the bar painstakingly high for Villagers next release. The Irish group have set an example for all folk groups to learn from. Expand
  2. Jan 30, 2014
    a sweeping, ambitious album that could have been better
    awayland has plenty of merits, with Villagers making every effort not to make
    "Becoming a Jackal II". At times this leads the listener down some interesting paths but at other times the listener is led down an uneven path that justs ends up leading nowhere. Whether Conor O'Brien likes it or not, it's when awayland sounds like its excellent predecessor that it's at its best. "Nothing Arrived", one of the albums rare moments of true pop genius, is a prime example of this.
    Overall, you can't say this is as good a record as "Jackal" despite the potential of some of the ideas present. There is evidence that Villagers could have stuck a bit closer to the formula of their first record more often, while expanding on it to keep it fresh e.g. the excellent "The Bell". There are too many points where we have experimentation for the sake of it for the record to be a great one. These "experimentation" points just don't engage enough to justify themselves.

    Overall, while it can lack the melodic beauty of its predecessor at times, awayland is a sweeping, ambitious album with plenty of excellent songwriting on display, a few moments of brilliance and the rare piece of pure genius. The thing is it could have been better.