Villagers — The Art Of Pretending To Swim (21st Sept., 2018)
Villagers — The Art Of Pretending To Swim (21st Sept., 2018)         Villagers — The Art Of Pretending To Swim (21st Sept., 2018)Villagers — The Art Of Pretending To Swim (21st Sept., 2018)PinJi score:✹✹✹✹✹✹✹✹✹¾
✹✹      Na svém čtvrtém albu Conor O’Brien hloubá a přemítá o víře, umění a matematičce, známé po jménem Ada Lovelace. Album odráží mnoho prvků debutu „Becoming a Jackal“, nominovaného na cenu Mercury, ale s přidanými prvky zralosti, asertivity a stylu. O’Brienovy texty jsou citové, čestné a sebereflexní. V písni ‘A Trick of the Light’ Ir zpívá: „V mém těle je oceán / a v mé duši je řeka / A já pláču.“ Většina písní se zabývá věcmi víry. V porovnání s předešlým albem „Where Have You Been All My Life?“ je zde jasná progrese. Použití elektronických bubnů a syntezátorů — ačkoli zpočátku ne úplně jasně zřejmých — je v novém směru. Skladby, jako „Love Came With All That It Brings“ ukazují, že O’Brien je nejen vysoce kvalifikovaný a vkusný hudebník, ale také talentovaný producent. Roisin O’Connor dává albu ✹✹✹✹ a píše o něm: bravúrní a nejsebejistější album. Lauren Murphy z Irish Times dokonce dává plný počet ✹✹✹✹✹ a říká: „Žádné předstírání, jen dokonalost. Může to být nejintenzivnější album O’Briena, ale intimita, melodie a staré dobré písničkářství jasně zůstávají stejně důležité jako kdykoli předtím. Je~li to jen o umění předstírat, že má plavat, jeho finiš k pódiu — jakkoli daleko v budoucnu to může být — by měl být opravdu olympijský.“
✹   Villagers, a solo vehicle for Irish singer~songwriter Conor J. O’Brien, specializes in atmospheric, indie folk/chamber pop that balances the youthful exuberance of contemporaries Jens Lekman, Eugene McGuinness, and Johnny Flynn with the classic rock and pop of artists like Paul Simon and Robert Wyatt. Formed in the late 2000s after the breakup of his band The Immediate, O’Brien began writing his own, solo material.
✹   Augusta Ada King, hraběnka z Lovelace (10. prosince 1815 Londýn ~ 27. listopadu 1852 tamtéž), narozená jako Augusta Ada Byron a nyní známá jako Ada Lovelace, byla anglická matematička a první programátorka, která je známá především detailním popisem fungování Babbageova mechanického počítače (analytického stroje), jehož vývoj podporovala i finančně. Mezi jejími poznámkami k analytickému stroji byl i algoritmus Bernoulliho čísel, který je považován za první algoritmus zpracovatelný počítačem. 
Formed: 2008 in Dublin, Ireland
Location: Dún Laoghaire, Dublin, Ireland
Album release: 21st September, 2018
Record Label: Domino

Duration:     41:25
01. Again     4:28
02. A Trick Of The Light     4:08
03. Sweet Saviour     4:36
04. Long Time Waiting     5:09
05. Fool     3:19
06. Love Came With All That It Brings     5:30
07. Real Go~Getter     3:26
08. Hold Me Down     4:39
09. Ada     6:10
✹   Peter Ashmore  Engineer
✹   Cormac Curran  Additional Production, Arranger, Keyboards
✹   Alan Darcy  Arranger, Sax (Baritone)
✹   Lisa Dowdall  Viola
✹   Kate Ellis  Cello
✹   Rich Gilligan  Photography
✹   Gavin Glass  Engineer
✹   Greenhorns  Brass, Woodwind
✹   Siobhán Kane  Vocals (Background)
✹   Kevin Kelleher   Arranger, Trumpet
✹   Liam McCabe  Arranger, Sax (Tenor)
✹   Niall McCormack  Artwork, Design
✹   Cormac Ó Haodáin  French Horn
✹   Conor J. O’Brien  Composer, Mixing
✹   Larissa O’Grady  Violin
✹   Colm O’Hara  Trombone
✹   Deirdre O’Leary  Clarinet
✹   Malachy Robinson  Double Bass
✹   Daniel Snow  Bass
✹   Ross Turner  Percussion
✹   Maaike Van Der Linde  Arranger, Flute, Vocals (Background)

•••    „Myself and Bob got together and discussed the song thematically and came to the conclusion that there was no other option but to make a short film in which we follow a dishevelled shamanistic protagonist who mysteriously triggers an altered state of consciousness in everyone he meets, or at least believes that he does. We also wanted lots of dancing and to inspire a general feeling of „what the hell did I just watch?“ in the viewer.“
•••    O’Brien has a string of accolades under his belt including two Ivor Novello Awards (the most recent being 2016’s Album Award for Darling Arithmetic), two Mercury Music Prize nominations and is also a previous winner of Ireland’s Choice Music Prize.
•••    Always restless and inventive while always true to the power and glory of songwriting and melody, Conor O’Brien has made another great leap forward with Villagers’ fourth studio album, The Art Of Pretending To Swim.
•••    Following the exquisitely sparse, intimate aura of 2015’s Darling Arithmetic, O’Brien’s new record reconnects with the multi~faceted approach of Villagers’ 2010 album debut Becoming A Jackal and 2013’s {Awayland} while adding a new~found soulfulness, rhythmic nous and dazzling panoply of sonic detail, both analogue and digital, creating feverish moods while writing effortlessly accessible tunes. Balanced with subtle aspects and lyrical themes that embrace existential fears and hopes in this desperate, technologically~centred dystopian age, The Art Of Pretending To Swim is the most brilliantly realised Villagers album to date.
•••    The album was written, produced, mixed and primarily performed by Conor O’Brien in his Dublin studio.
Words: George Mcmillan
, Score: ****     
•••    Villagers’ 2010 debut ‘Becoming A Jackal’ came out at a time where acoustic guitar music was in vogue and the charts were flooded with the likes of Mumford and Sons, Ed Sheeran and Ben Howard. Eight years on, singer~songwriter Conor O’Brien has proved he’s not a one~trick pony, capable of making more than just dainty guitar music. ‘The Art Of Pretending To Swim’ is the band’s most ambitious record to date.
•••    The album echoes many elements of that Mercury Prize~nominated debut, but with added elements of maturity, assertiveness and style. O’Brien’s lyrics are emotional, honest and self~reflecting. On ‘A Trick of the Light’, the Irishman sings, „There’s an ocean in my body / And there’s a river in my soul / And I’m crying.“ Compared to the album’s predecessors, there is clear progression here. Use of electronic drums and synths — although initially not glaringly obvious — take them in a new direction. Tracks such as ‘Love Came With All That It Brings’ show O’Brien to not only be a highly skilled and tasteful musician, but a talented producer too.
•••    Listeners may be surprised at some points where songs almost seem to take on influence from dance tracks. Four~to~the~floor beats, repeated phrases and heady synth lines feature throughout, but in some tracks become the focal point. This is most notable in opener ‘Again’ and on ‘Real Go~Getter’, which transition into entirely different songs at their conclusions. In both cases, the transitions are understated.
The album’s not always so subtle. ‘Long Time Waiting’ has a promising start — it’s laced with the record’s trademark tight drums and stylish harmonies — but the 90~second mark heralds the unwelcome arrival of a jarring synth sound comparable to the bleeping noise Super Mario makes when he jumps. Still, Villagers fans will no doubt love this record, which has the capacity to obtain a new fanbase with O’Brien’s newly found sound. •••

Villagers — The Art Of Pretending To Swim (21st Sept., 2018)