Of Monsters and Men thrill listeners with debut album
Published: Monday, April 9, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, April 10, 2012 23:04
The new indie/pop/folk band, Of Monsters and Men, claim that they are “here to stay” on their song “King and Lionheart,” and with the brilliant work they’ve done on their first studio album, any listener will be inclined to agree. The Icelandic band’s sound on their album “My Head Is an Animal” is similar to that of the Arcade Fire, with fun, catchy and upbeat melodies and vocals that vary from song to song (depending on who takes the lead-singing reins) but are always impeccable.
The female lead vocalist has a breathy, girly voice that she uses in the loveliest staccato way, accenting each note slightly and leaving the listener with a sweet sound in their ears. The male lead vocalist complements her with a full tenor voice that soars effortlessly around the girlish soprano with just the right bit of whine, harmonizing and adding a layer of depth that would otherwise leave the songs lacking.
The band has been hugely popular in Iceland, and the boisterous, electrifying, horn-filled vocal-duet “Little Talks” has already held the number one spot in the Icelandic music charts. Their popularity is unsurprisingly growing in the United States. Their ability to make percussion-heavy, melodic and vocally awesome songs will no doubt propel them easily into the popular indie music scene after their first appearance in the U.S. at the South by Southwest Music Festival this past March.
This first album sounds like a well-oiled musical machine – a brilliant entrance for a band just starting out. Along with “Little Talks,” the song “Love Love Love” stands out as a slower, more carefully crafted ditty that primarily features the sweet vocals from before and an acoustic guitar, with a bright little xylophone counter-melody and a splash of cymbals that creates a downright pretty song.
Lyrics take a backseat the first time listening to this album because the instruments have such a strong presence. On the second listen through, songs like “Your Bones” have strange but inviting and attention-grabbing lyrics: “In the spring we made a boat / Out of feathers, out of bones. / We set fire to our homes, / Walking barefoot in the snow. / Distant rhythm of the drum / As we drifted towards the storm.” The percussion section nicely mirrors the “distant rhythm” described in the lyrics and creates a not-so-amateur thread of song-crafting consistency.
The band’s originality and quirkiness comes through on nearly every song. The combination of the constant duets between the vocalists and the heavy instrumentation makes for one hell of a debut album. NPR’s Kevin Cole claims that “each song on ‘My Head Is an Animal’… demonstrates Of Monsters and Men's wide-eyed, openhearted exuberance. It's an album that rings with unbridled joy, just in time for spring.”
This album thrills listeners in all of the best ways, and already Of Monsters and Men have their work cut out for them on any future album to follow this truly radiant first recording.