Album Review: Of Monsters and Men, My Head Is An Animal

Written by  Published in Album Reviews Thursday, 05 April 2012 11:53

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Of Monsters and Men, a clever play on Of Mice and Men are a fun band. They exude fun, there’s really no better way to put it. They’ve been all over our site recently and with good reason. The group's album, My Head Is an Animal, dropped April 3rd and it is absolutely beautiful. For a debut, it is amazing. It is so reminiscent of Arcade Fire that I had to check to see if there were any cross-banding members. There aren’t.

If you haven’t heard of Of Monsters and Men, they’re from Iceland, and are quite talented. They consider themselves a folk act, but that doesn’t jibe with what I heard. It was more on the indie pop side, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I found them to be like the aforementioned Arcade Fire with a touch of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and a floater of Bjork.

There is something going on in Iceland that I don’t think people are in the States are paying enough attention to. When bands are coming out in droves, maybe that’s overstating it, but like the Irish invasion a couple decades ago, the Icelandic revolution has begun. Ignoring the tiny island is no longer an option and I can see it now as record execs will invade the white covered lands to find the hidden talent that lies beneath the snowy surface.

Of Monsters and Men are comprised of co-singer/guitarist Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir, co-singer/guitarist Ragnar “Raggi” Þórhallsson, guitarist Brynjar Leifsson, drummer Arnar Rósenkranz Hilmarsson, piano/accordion player Árni Guðjónsson, and bassist Kristján Páll Kristjánsson, and they all play a role in shaping the outfit's sound. In many bands, it’s the lead singer, lead guitarist and then everybody else. In Of Monsters, however, we feel the cacophony of noise that sounds like it emanates from smoke filled rooms and eager hearts where people sweat their cares away as they become one with their instruments. This is a band based on feeling and it shows. This is a band that pushes those feelings through the tiny speakers of my laptop at such a furious clip that one could be not blamed if they were moved to tears, not knowing why they cry, but feeling the joy and beauty of a record that moves them.

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Perhaps the names are not pronounceable to the uninformed American, myself being the foremost in that conversation, but the band name will not be easily forgotten. It isn’t every day that a band hits the scene with a debut album that is universally well received. It isn’t every day that a band comes along and you realize almost immediately that this band is destined for great things. If a band can do things like this on a debut album, what does the future hold for this six-member band from an island that, up until that volcano a few years ago, was most famous for exporting Bjork and not much else? That’s the question, isn’t it? Now we have expectations, we have a litmus test to hold them up against. We have excellence personified and we’ll expect more of it in the future. I suspect Of Monsters and Men will be more than up to the task.

Last modified on Thursday, 05 April 2012 20:33
Matt De Mello

When I was a kid I remember listening to Bob Dylan's lyrics and thinking I want to write like that someday. I followed the musical evolutionary steps from '80's pop, to 90's grunge and gangster rap, I found myself in a quandary in the late '90's and turned to classic rock and alt-country. That was my finding Buddha moment. I discovered greatness in the crackling vinyl sounds of Exile on Main Street, Grievous Angel and Nebraska. I found myself inspired by Nirvana, Pavement and REM. It was this inspiration that led me to write about music. It's the only thing I've ever felt truly comfortable doing. I love music, all music from Miles and Coltrane to Bruce and Dylan. From Nirvana and Pearl Jam to Beethoven and Brahms. From Jimi and Janis to Dre and Pac. I go to shows in San Francisco quite often and love discovering new music. If you have a hot tip on a band or like what I'm saying email me at Matt@BestNewBands.com or follow me @MattKDeMello

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