Throughout their career, Dublin’s own Villagers have managed to make music that is heartfelt and considered without ever being twee. Unlike lesser indie folk acts, they never come across as toothless or pithy: there is some real fire lurking underneath the gentle layers of acoustic guitars and lead singer Conor O’Brien’s dense lyrics.
The band’s new single Courage is no exception to this rule: although its tone is gently upbeat, there’s nothing reductive or one note about the music. It is the kind of song one might listen to in the hazy hours after an evening of debauchery: it’s music of recovery, but has a substantial emotional core that grounds the listener.
O’Brien’s voice has never been as impressive, a compliment indeed given his strong history of vocal performances. His lilting tones ebb and flow, rising over the dense, emotional strains of piano and guitar.
Courage is also admirably restrained; it’s a slow burn of a tune that builds to a subtle, controlled climax. Without ever striving for cheap melodrama, O’Brien ensures that the song’s successes are hard won and genuine, without ever being brash.
A good single is the best sort of promotion there is. With Courage, O’Brien and his team present not only their own talents, but the promise of some very good things on the horizon.