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Acclaimed Irish indie folk outfit led by singer-songwriter Conor O'Brien

The Irish folk rock outfit Villagers are irrefutable proof of the lasting power of second chances. Founding member Conor O’Brien had already tasted the poisoned chalice of hype and overnight success with the appropriately titled The Immediate, a band whose road to flitting fame included curious ploys such as launching demo CDs at Nicky Wire during a Manic Street Preachers gig.

Just as The Immediate were on the brink, they split up. O’Brien continued to write and in 2009, a four-track EP surfaced under the Villagers moniker, with O’Brien playing all the instruments himself. Ears pricked up at this first taster and a band was assembled to help make the most of the opportunities gathering at the gates.

Following multiple festival appearances and support slots with fellow Irish bands The Chapters and Bell X1 and international heavyweights Neil Young and Tracy Chapman, Villagers’ debut album finally landed in 2010. Becoming A Jackal was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize and O’Brien won the Ivor Novello Award for the album’s title track.

O’Brien found himself in something of a creative slump following two years of touring the band’s debut album. He turned towards electronic textures via synthesizers and drum machines to help jolt him out of it. As a result, the band’s second album wayland wasn’t so much a departure from its predecessor as a sideways shift, the mixture of electronica and earnest folk earning comparisons to Bright Eyes.

Villagers’ restlessness resulted in yet another shift for their third album, the hushed, stripped back Darling Artithmetic. O’Brien re-recorded a selection of songs from the band’s first three albums for 2016’s Where Have You Been All My Life? before returning to Villagers’ solo origins and the electronic flourishes of wayland for 2018’s The Art Of Pretending To Swim.

In 2021, Villagers released a new single The First Day, the first taster of their sixth album Fever Dreams.