The debut from Dublin, Ireland’s Villagers is as lush and intricate as the act’s moniker suggests, but its creator’s idea of what constitutes a proper settlement is clearly in question. Formed after the break-up of indie rockers the Immediate by singer/songwriter/multi instrumentalist Conor J. O’Brien, Villagers is a one-man band, and a damn good one at that. Handling all of the duties (besides brass and stings), O’Brien has crafted a warm, weary, and highly listenable first album that shows that you can go it alone without going lo-fi. Part Conor Oberst, part Paul Simon, and a whole lot of Jens Lekman and King Creosote, Becoming a Jackal starts out strong with the one-two punch of “I Saw the Dead” and the infectious title cut, both of which present two sides of the artist -- the former, a dreamy, dirge-like invocation of Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, and the latter a simple, reflective bit of folk-pop that’s only a few vinyl scratches away from classic rock radio. It’s a formula that he applies throughout the record, and while it doesn’t always work, there’s enough honesty in his rich, warm voice to render even the most forgettable tracks into pleasant diversions on the way to future favorites.
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AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger