After Conor O’Brien’s sensational performance on Jools Holland a few weeks ago, the name on everyone’s lips has been Villagers, the Irish band O’Brien fronts. This being their debut album, Becoming A Jackal highlights just why they are so highly regarded at a young age. The album starts with ‘I Saw The Dead’, which is an intelligent starter, and represents the album well as a whole. The song, and those following, represent great songwriting, smart lyrics and catchy melodies. O’Brien avoids both the dense electro sound, and brash guitars that are so popular of late, instead opting for simple portions of piano, guitar and harmonising vocals, which are modest in their minimalism.
‘Becoming A Jackal’ encompasses an empty and thoughtful feeling, with O’Brien’s lyricism epitomising a powerful sense of longing, and utilising the analogy of the Jackal as a creature yearning for release and freedom. As the lead single, it is the startling way many have discovered the talent of this man. ‘The Meaning Of The Ritual’ is both delicate and powerful in its story of lost love, a centerpiece for the album which is overwhelming when seen live. The subject matter lightens from here on in, as does the sound, with a much more accessible feel as twinkling pianos and backing vocals contribute to the make up of ‘Home’.
The remaining tracks continue to present the brilliance of O’Brien’s storytelling ability, whilst keeping the listener gripped with memorable melodies. In essence they are pop tracks, but they are beautifully poetic in their nature and certainly illustrate the talent of this young Irish band, most notably their songwriter. For a debut album it’s very successful and Conor and his cohorts seem destined for big things.