Villagers have released their fifth studio album, Fever Dreams, via Domino, which is a mesmerising and dreamy LP in it’s entirety, seeing a more positive Conor O’Brien after the more morose yet stunning The Art of Pretending to Swim.

Fever Dreams follows The Art Of Pretending To SwimDarling Arithmetic{Awayland} and Becoming A Jackal. Conor O’Brien also has a string of accolades under his belt including two Ivor Novello Awards, two Mercury Music Prize nominations and is a previous winner of Ireland’s Choice Music Prize. Additionally, Villagers’ music has featured in the BBC/Hulu series Normal People and their Spotify session of “Nothing Arrived” has hit over 165 million streams.

O’Brien says on the gestation of Fever Dreams“I had an urge to write something that was as generous to the listener as it was to myself. Sometimes the most delirious states can produce the most ecstatic, euphoric and escapist dreams.”

The intent of the songs is both mysterious and as clear as a bell. With Fever Dreams, there is a sense of a deepening mastery and an expanding reach by O’Brien but with a sense of enigma. Inspiration for the album was found in many places and came in from all angles, from night swimming on a Dutch island to Flann O’Brien, Audre Lorde, David Lynch, L. S. Lowry via the library music of Piero Umiliani and Alessandro Alessandroni and jazz from Duke Ellington and Alice Coltrane.

Written over the expanse of two years, the main bodies of the songs were recorded in a series of full-band studio sessions in late 2019 and early 2020. During the long, slow pandemic days, O’Brien refined them in his tiny home studio in Dublin, and the album was then mixed by David Wrench (Frank Ocean, The xx, FKA Twigs).

Opener, Something Bigger is discordant and snappy, setting the tone for the rest of the album. The First Day moves us into a dream-like state, with fleshed out soundscapes, rich melody and booming brass. However, So Simpatico is the particular track that is my personal stand out on Fever Dreams, an indulgently dreamy and kaleidoscopic ballad that hangs around long after the album ends. Restless Endeavour is precisely this, a track that endeavours to seep into your skin (in that way that you might want it to) and one that adds a different flavour to the album, with the one thread being that the LP is a meditative pull towards the positive, after the last looking more sympathetically at mental health. Lush!

Fever Dreams is available to order on Dom Mart exclusive coloured vinyl (with one-sided 7” and signed 4 postcard set), indies exclusive coloured vinyl, Dinked Editions exclusive coloured vinyl (with flexi disc), Irish exclusive coloured vinyl, vinyl, CD and digitally. Order: Dom Mart | Digital