{Awayland} - Villagers
Metascore
80

Generally favorable reviews - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. Apr 8, 2013
    80
    The creative progression O'Brien exhibits here leaves no lingering questions of doubt whether he would succumb to the dreaded second album syndrome, and regardless of awards, wayland sees the Irishman at his best, both musically and lyrically.
  2. Jan 14, 2013
    55
    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.
  3. Jan 15, 2013
    80
    The edges may be sharper, the outlook less austere and self-contained, but Villagers are still defined by songs which deliver hook upon hook. [Feb 2013, p.82]
  4. Jan 24, 2013
    80
    {Awayland} is not blessed with the stark folkloric purity of Becoming A Jackal. It still confirms, however, that O'Brien is a songwriter out of step, out of time, and when he hits his lyrical stride, out of this world. [Feb 2013, p.110]
  5. Jan 18, 2013
    80
    A picaresque journey through the cosmos. [Feb 2013, p.86]
  6. 70
    Where there was tension and urgency [on his debut], now there's bigger, poppier and probably more commercially viable folk songs that don't quite pack the same punch.
  7. Mar 22, 2013
    60
    The songs are well and good, the lyrics phenomenal at times, and the music solid. Yet there are enough moments when the album falls flat to deflate the impact of those golden moments. [Mar-Apr 2013, p.96]
  8. Feb 1, 2013
    90
    Defying all expectations, they have taken a brave leap forward and delivered one of the first great albums of 2013.
  9. Jan 14, 2013
    90
    Far from falling under the weight of either expectation or ambition, {awayland} is a far more magnificent progression from Jackal than any of us could have hoped for.
  10. Jan 14, 2013
    80
    The dazzling imagery comes with a rollercoasting voyage through acoustic soul, brass and--a new development--electronica.
  11. Feb 12, 2013
    70
    As an exercise in artfully executed pop maximalism, {Awayland} is unquestionably a treat.... All he needs now is something worth saying.
  12. Jun 6, 2013
    60
    Occasionally a lick of whimsical Irish poetry sneaks in (Earthly Pleasures), but lyrically O’Brien’s going for something more vague and profound.
  13. 70
    O’Brien, or Villagers rather, succeeded in creating an album rife with adventure and tragedy, made even more addictive with each listen.
  14. Jan 14, 2013
    80
    The evocative lyrics sometimes suffer from overly mannered or just overdone phraseology.... But these are ultimately prices worth paying for the pleasingly poetic, adventurous and occasionally florid use of words that mark Villagers out as one of the more interesting, literate and imaginative storytellers of recent years.
  15. Apr 23, 2013
    64
    {Awayland} tends to feel without reason or necessity, as if thrown together more in effort to get something down than to say something that needed saying.
  16. Jan 18, 2013
    60
    Villagers ought to be applauded for their ambition to heave themselves away from expectation, and then mourned for their lack of conviction which discards them back into it.
  17. Apr 9, 2013
    60
    On “Jackal,” O’Brien’s digressive songwriting was held together by a unifying palette. Here, he’s all over the place.
  18. May 10, 2013
    85
    {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]
  19. Jan 14, 2013
    90
    {Awayland} is just brilliant.
  20. May 29, 2013
    60
    A musician capable of creating lush if sometimes unlikely arrangements, he uses his particular prowess as a means of fashioning spectacular soundscapes.
  21. 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.
  22. It's that rare commodity: an album to immerse yourself in and spend time with, both things no one does any more.
  23. Jan 14, 2013
    90
    {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.
  24. 80
    There’s a balanced mix of wistful folk, and rockier, more radio-friendly offerings which lure in the casual listener, ensuring an enduring record that warms the cockles in these frosty fledgling weeks of 2013.
  25. Jan 14, 2013
    80
    The Dubliner's follow-up, though no less literate, is more adventurous and electronic.
  26. Jan 14, 2013
    60
    O'Brien's voice is beautiful and his songwriting often adventurous, but there are times when the aim isn't as true as it could be.
  27. Jun 4, 2013
    60
    It’s when Villagers are at their most pure--be it on the brilliant chamber pop of Northing Arrived or the pure, instrumental pastoral of the title track--that {Awayland} is strongest; as opposed to when it’s trying to outsource itself to stylistic whimsy or fad.
User Score
8.2

Universal acclaim- based on 16 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Jan 30, 2014
    8
    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.
    Full Review »
  2. May 1, 2013
    10
    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. Full Review »