Generally favorable reviews - based on 16 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 16
  2. Negative: 0 out of 16
  1. Astonishing new album from ex-Immediate wunderkind.
  2. Becoming a Jackal is downright convincing-maybe sustaining-even these few weeks after first hearing the thing. I'm surprised, though maybe I shouldn't be, by just how cool and atypical that feeling is.
  3. There's depth, sincerity and beauty in abundance here.
  4. While that argument over the art of the singer-songwriter may be embedded in a lack of originality, Villagers have managed to craft an endearing record, glowing with a heart-warming level of nostalgia.
  5. 80
    O'Brien sees dead people, spits at love, puts himself inside the heads of fellow bus passengers and defies anyone to categorise his music. It's a rich experience making the attempt though. [Jul 2010, p.92]
  6. 80
    The Dublin troubadour's debut as Villagers is rich with risk and imagination, evoking Robert Wyatt and Brian Protheroe. [Jun 2010, p.106]
  7. This debut seems to tremble on the threshold between the past and the present, the known and unknown, O'Brien's voice and allusive lyrics displaying a mixture of vulnerability and dexterity. [July 2010, p. 137]
  8. While the music is laced with melodies delicate and sombre, the tone lifts towards the end of this accomplished debut, even drifting towards buoyancy.
  9. Rather like that other, more famous, Conor - Oberst, of Bright Eyes fame - there's a sense of foundations being laid, in preparation for a career of real longevity. Hop on now, for this promises to be quite a ride.
  10. Meticulous but only rarely precious, it's an album distantly haunted by Phil Spector's Wall of Sound, a luminous mesh of acoustic and electric guitars, bass, piano and organ, with airlessly thudding drums.
  11. Every word on the album rings honest and true without any indulgent dips in over-sentimentality.
  12. For the most part, this is a fine debut and speaks of even finer things to come.
  13. If you set aside some uninspired, cryptic-as-poetic moody fantasy lyrics (and a few forgettable songs truly as slight as whispers), Becoming a Jackal reveals a hidden stash of imminently memorable melodies.
  14. The rest of Becoming a Jackal finds O'Brien blending the light and shade, allure and unease. Over these 11 songs, O'Brien maintains his intriguing vibe with spare musical arrangements (playing everything but strings and horns) and a subtle, intimate croon.
  15. [O'Brien's] portentous lyrics, falsetto-prone quaver, and Simon & Garfunkel tunefulness are essential to the album's appeal.
  16. There's enough honesty in his rich, warm voice to render even the most forgettable tracks into pleasant diversions on the way to future favorites.
  17. It all adds up to an imtimate album--not overly produced, but fairly epic in scope. [Summer 2010, p.86]
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 16 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 4
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 4
  3. Negative: 0 out of 4
  1. Jun 19, 2012
    Have to say I really like this record. Of it's 11 tracks there are only a couple of dull numbers. The sound is predominantly quite mellow, with mainly gently delivered vocals, piano and acoustic guitars. The songwriting is excellent for the most part. I would say your better off hearing this record without hearing its creator, Conor O Brien talk. If he was a hamburger he'd eat himself. A bit like the way Bono turns a lot of people off of U2, COB had a similar effect for me. Still, this is good stuff. Full Review »
  2. Jul 28, 2011
    Definitely the album of the year, and if he manages to produce another album of anything close to the haunting beauty of this one, he will become a legend. Full Review »
  3. Dec 22, 2010
    Really fantastic album. One of the best of 2010, and that's really saying something with the excellent albums out this year by Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend, Sufjan Stevens, and The National. This guy has a lovely, soft, delicate voice that goes well with his folk-rock arrangements. The music is beautiful. He reminds me of a mixture of Conor Oberst and Elvis Perkins. Full Review »