Intimate and anthemic, the debut album My Head Is An Animal from Of Monsters And Men is a stunning introduction to Iceland’s newest and most exciting export. Debuting at number six on the Billboard 200 earlier this year, the record made a statement by exceeding all expectations and outperforming Bjork and her Volta album. Fans of such indie-folk acts as Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeroes or Mumford and Sons will be pleasantly surprised by the Icelandic sextet; Of Monsters and Men combine the lyrical tenderness of the latter with the vast, sweeping musical arrangements of the former while weaving their own personality through each track. ‘Little Talks’ has made its way on to most radio stations and deservedly so, but to believe that it is the best Of Monsters and Men can offer is lunacy.
Album opener ‘Dirty Paws’ introduces the dual vocals of Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar “Raggi” Þórhallsson; beautifully off-set, the band offer impressive harmonies, peppered with wistful ‘ohh la la’s’ that return in tracks like ‘From Finner’ and ‘Slow and Steady’. Highlight ‘King and Lionheart’ defines Of their pursuit of authenticity; musically, the band offer the orchestral depth of Florence and the Machine, accompanied by an infectious personality the song drives home the simple but satisfying hook: “you’re a King and I’m a Lionheart”.
Lead single ‘Little Talks’ is impressive and has proved the most popular offering so far; using ‘the sensitive female’ chord progression and a well-placed brass section, the band have created most of their hype from this one track. It is perhaps the first indication of the dynamic existing between both vocalists. In an almost intrusive sense, the music becomes much more intimate at the suggestion of a conversation; it’s the most endearing quality reflected from this album.
The band have striven to provide the most eclectic mix of tracks on My Head Is An Animal and the latter half of the record offers a more subtle, at times pensive, view of the world. ‘Love Love Love’ and ‘Sloom’ are some of the most delicate moments shared this year; the passionate lyrics, bolstering their conviction to create an emotive piece of work, “the books that I keep by my bags are full of stories, that I drew up on a little dream of mine”. Concluding with the track ‘Yellow Light’, Of Monsters and Men end on a sentimental note. Powerfully led by Nanna, the band dimly twinkles into the fading distance after sixty minutes of pioneering indie-folk. Truly a record full of expressive lyrics, diverse instrumentation and gifted composition.