AOTY 2018

The Art of Pretending to Swim

Villagers - The Art of Pretending to Swim
Critic Score
Based on 14 reviews
2018 Ratings: #349 / 707
User Score
Based on 41 ratings
2018 Ratings: #262
September 21, 2018 / Release Date
LP / Format
Domino / Label
Indie Folk / Genres
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CRITIC REVIEWS

80
Clash

What makes this a must listen is the sense of a master songwriter having more fun than ever. Always a creator of interesting music, there is a playfulness here that is much more prominent than in 'Becoming A Jackal' or 'Darling Arithmetic'.

80
The Skinny

The Art of Pretending to Swim is an album that will reveal itself after a few listens. Initially, it sounds like a case of business as usual for Villagers, but spend time with the likes of Love Came With All It Brings, the tense Real Go-Getter and the gorgeous six-minute McCartney-esque closer Ada, and you'll hear the sound of an artist still busy being born.

80
Dork

O'Brien has you eating out of the palm of his hand as he spins such luminous yarns you're left with your mouth firmly agape. Four albums in and Villagers are still going strong, smoother than ever and with plenty of tricks up their sleeves.

80
The Independent

The Art of Pretending to Swim is Villagers’ most assured, and daring, album.

80
DIY

Their commitment to delivering rich, well-crafted studio albums continues to set them apart.

80
The Line of Best Fit

This is a songwriter who has mastered his craft and now has applied a frivolity to his record and the outcome is the most essential release to date.

80
NME

The former Mercury nominees return with their most ambitious record to date, a dance-influenced model in craftsmanship.

80
Drowned in Sound

The Art of Pretending to Swim masters the difficult trick of doing what fans love an artist for, while subtly making creative strides in a new direction.

80
musicOMH

O’Brien isn’t afraid to tackle heavy subjects, but it’s all pushed through with a real lightness of touch that means that it’s easy to give The Art Of Pretending To Swim plenty of repeat listenings.

75
Under The Radar

By all accounts, The Art of Pretending to Swim is a remarkably encompassing record for a group that has been lauded as exclusively one genre of music. O'Brien and company prove that folk music is an emotive device, a way of describing a certain atmosphere, a moment in time, or place on the seaside.

70
AllMusic

The Art of Pretending to Swim is a strong example of how one man with an unlimited number of tracks to fill can create a compelling and revealing collection of songs. If this doesn't always sound like what one would expect from Villagers, its emotional impact shows that it's clearly O'Brien's work.

60
Loud and Quiet

Overall, ‘The Art of Pretending to Swim’ is an interesting representation of renewed belief and cycles of faith – even if at times it pushes things a little too far.

60
PopMatters

Villagers' music is pleasant and easy to listen to without being simple, and has catchy melodies that don't reach the level of massive pop hooks.

50
Exclaim!

The self-produced record dives into murky waters in an ambitious attempt to incorporate an electronic flair to an already complete set of folk tunes.

luna128
58
folk is my weakness, even if its not particularly interesting i just

sING IT TO ME MORE SWEET FRIEND
63
Villagers’ latest is held back by their resistance to let their material speak for itself. Conor O’Brien is a capable songwriter whose work has traditionally thrived in an intimate setting. On “The Art of Pretending to Swim,” some decently well-written songs are obfuscated by a sheen of overproduction, fake-sounding drums that don’t match his acoustic baseline, and generally unnecessary electronics. This isn’t to say that lyrically-driven projects must exist ... read more
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END OF YEAR LISTS

#49/MOJO
#95/Rough Trade

Track List

  1. Again
  2. A Trick of the Light
  3. Sweet Saviour
  4. Long Time Waiting
  5. Fool
  6. Love Came with All That It Brings
  7. Real Go - Getter
  8. Hold Me Down
  9. Ada
Contributions By
thisisabtlgrnd, patton, bgod
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Added on: June 12, 2018