To date Connor O’Brien’s songwriting career had been a critically successful one – double Mercury nominated, double Ivor Novello winning – and that Villagers’ slightly awkward, genre-hopping premise has continued to appeal just as importantly to the public is, on the surface, a little triumph for the Dubliner.
Except in the run up to Fever Dreams release he’d been minded to make some confessions. Looking at it through the subjective lense of creator, much of the band’s back catalogue had to this point he said been about personal situations that offered scope to talk about himself; ultimately he mused that echo will only sustain art for so long. The band’s sixth album is set to the backdrop of being half completed in studio and the other fifty percent under lockdown. In the circumstances you could’ve forgiven O’Brien for looking inwards again – many others have – but instead the world looms up in his rear view mirror, even as it closed down.
Sometimes inspiration came from beyond it. Song In Seven recalls a midnight skinny dip whilst looking up at the stars – presumably the Great Bear reference on the album’s art work – whilst Circles In The Firing Line unpicks the absolutism of modern day conversations, longing for shared perspective which will never return. Mostly though Fever Dreams is admirable for boasting some of the finest songs of his career, with flourishes of jazz, folk, psychedelia and soul, at it’s absolute peak on Momentarily – a track a young Van Morrison would’ve been proud of – and the wonderful Something Bigger, testament to some big ideas bearing fruit far from the tree they’ve been so close to in the past.
Read the full review here.