- 20 Aug 21
All You Need Is Love
New love gleams like sunshine. Everything is brighter, everything sparks with electricity and hope, the fresh hope of a new beginning, the first day of the rest of your life. There is a joy to this best part of our brief existence, it’s the reason we’re here.
Has Conor O’Brien recently put a token in the slot of this soul carwash? I don’t know, but Fever Dreams somehow manages to bottle the sensation. I suspect it’s easier to make a record – or any piece of art – that’s mired in misery; happiness is a trickier thing to put a net around. Love and joy are the purest form of escapism, a holiday from mundanity, a fever dream.
This record staggers into that light and swirls into earshot, “When your blood is pumping and it’s all or nothing you get the sense of something bigger than you.” Shadows are banished as the glorious, epiphanic sheen of ‘The First Day’ fills the room, “there’s a strong sense that you can’t go wrong, it’s a fine line but you’re getting it right, on the first day of the rest of your life.” O’Brien’s melodic sensibilities are sharper than ever and the arrangement is magnificent melange of trumpets, mellotronic effect and clattering drums. “Feels like falling in love, feels like sunshine.”
What more could you hope for than someone who’s on your wavelength? The key changes and the extended sax solo that spirals off into the heavens of ‘So Simpatico’ constitute a song that is, somehow, infused with the wild exuberance of being alive and not alone. “The more I know, the more I care’ – a lyric that’s repeated later in ‘Full Faith in Providence’ and then by various voices in ‘Fever Dreams’ – is the record’s central tenet, a declaration of faith and love, a realisation of life’s meaning.
Villagers have made some fine records before but this lifts O’Brien to a different level. The piano that opens ‘Momentarily’ where love drives out dread, the strings that fight against the squeal of those who are “fucking up his favourite dream” in ‘Circles In The Firing Line’, enemies who are banished by a guitar solo before the song morphs into something else altogether. The sweet, breathless pop of ‘Restless Endeavour’ as the horns overrun it and the gentle ebb and flow of the closing ‘Deep In My Heart’ as O’Brien pans in “the goldmine of sweet memory.” The ghosts of Flaming Lips’ masterpieces like The Soft Bulletin float in the background, but these touches are O’Brien at his most free. Fever Dreams is a beautiful record, full of hope and colour and - that word again - joy.