I first heard of Auri back in 2020, during the tedium of the first lockdown. If you read this blog (yes, both of you) you’ll know I’m a massive fan of Nightwish, and of course Auri has two members in common with that band, so I was already pre-disposed to be interested. I bought the first album.

And make no mistake, Auri I is a really good album, with a couple of utterly transcendent tracks on it. But it seemed like they were still figuring out what Auri was; as an album it feels slightly inchoate and (oddly) slightly too long.

This time out, though, there is no uncertainty. Johanna, Troy and Tuomas know exactly what Auri is and precisely what they’re doing, and they articulate it with a clear, consistent voice over ten perfectly crafted, transportingly beautiful, constantly surprising songs.

Musically, it is genuinely hard to describe. The foundation is folk, certainly, with strong prog elements, but equally there’s chamber music, film scores (the album title is a clear reference to M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village) and even some bits that verge on latter-day Nine Inch Nails. Traditional string and wind instruments sit side-by-side with electronics. It’s tuneful and you can sing along to the songs (not well, at least in my case, but if it’s just you in the car and nobody’s listening …), but they don’t follow conventional structures and no sooner have you got the hang of a song than it immediately veers off to somewhere completely different. Regardless, it is certainly one thing: absolutely beautiful.

Honestly, since it arrived on Monday I’ve rapidly become obsessed with this record. It’s probably displaced The Anchoress’ remarkable The Art of Losing as my album of the year. Go buy it, then put on your headphones, go for a walk in the woods and just lose yourself in its beauty. You won’t regret it.