(Photo credit – Rich Gilligan)
Album Review - Villagers: Fever Dreams (August 20, 2021)
After my first listen of Villagers’ upcoming Fever Dreams, I messaged my AltRevue editor. “Michael, I know it is only August 7, but I have my pick for album of the month.” Not only that, but I will go so far as to call this my 2021 Fall Album.
In 2019, Flying Lotus’s Flamagra was my summer album. It was released on May 24 and helped set the mood for my entire summer. It was cool, popping, and even had Anderson .Paak on what is my favorite song that features him, “More.” I listened to that album through and through many times. Yet I hear you asking, “Who’s ever heard of a fall album?”
In the late summer, early autumn months, the kids go back to school, and we go from beaches and vacations back to the grind and weekend bonfires. Instead of planting and cultivating, we reap what we’ve sown. The energy from the summer carries over early on. Still, it evolves into moody states as we hit a lull before the holiday season. And for 2021, the anxiety of a new school year amidst another wave of the pandemic adds an entirely new layer. Fever Dream captures this.
“Something Bigger” and “The First Day” run together and create the perfect build. Screaming The Flaming Lips to me, these two songs feel familiar and comfortable. It’s that carry over from summer. Layered and moody but uplifting and full of energy. “Feels like falling in love, on the first day, of the rest of your life.”
The album set-up leads to “Song in Seven.” This is mid-September, back in the groove, and while summer’s memories are still alive to us, we like where we are, even if we are not ready to admit it. Still mixed with emotions, but they are softened by the new and exciting routine.
“So Simpatico” is Fall Love. It’s late September, and the weather is beautiful. However, nights are long sleeves and sitting closer to the fire. The light flickers in new lovers’ eyes. Friends around, they talk, and summer is not in our thoughts. We are in the moment.
A hauntingly sweet song, “Momentarily” is that first really cool autumn day, a rainy weekend. Rain is necessary for the leaves to become colorful, but it is hard to accept. Talk to your SAD friends. Make sure they are getting their shit together.
“Circles in the Firing Line” is summer showing its face again, a warm patch full of emotions. Musically, this song stands out because hinting at the 4:50 mark and then at the 5:17 mark, we hear something we have yet to hear on the album, a guitar solo. Six minutes in, the song turns punk until the fade, encompassing that mid-October rut.
The last part of the season begins with “Restless Endeavour.” The continual build full of anxiety leads to “Full Faith in Providence,” which slows the album to the November feel. The weather has taken over. It is between rainy and cold and grey and cold. Summer is a distant memory, and even though it hints at snowing, it never does.
“Fever Dream” is a mixture of the loss of innocence and childlike hope for the holiday season. Life is complicated, but it doesn’t have to be, right? Remember how easy it was as a kid. Thanksgiving meant the best part of the year was coming. However, the weight of responsibility is a crucible to optimism. “The more I know, the more I care.”
It is the week of Thanksgiving, and the first proper snow is falling. “Deep In My Heart” is sitting inside and watching as fat snowflakes gently fall but still do not collect. The world is quiet and muffled. It is cold, but you are warm inside.
Final Thought: I never expected the review to go in this direction. Sometimes, I have to just let it happen. That being said, this album is a very well-written album, lyrically and musically. Villagers have a clean and professional sound that I completely appreciate.
Favorite Songs: “The First Day,” “Song in Seven,” and “Circles In The Firing Line”
Rating - 5/5 – This album will be in my top 10 for the year.