Conor O’Brien may sport a fetching beard these days but the third album he’s recorded as Villagers finds the Dubliner shaving his music right back to the bone. By comparison, his 2010 debut album Becoming A Jackal and especially its 2013 successor [Awayland] – both hugely acclaimed and Mercury-nominated, while the latter won Ireland’s equivalent Choice Prize – were more detailed, multi-faceted affairs, so Darling Arithmetic is a brave and committed new step forward, eschewing the easier route. O’Brien plays every instrument on these exquisite, melodic songs in a beautifully sparse, spacious, intimate, acoustic-leaning fashion, as well as recording and...
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