Of Monsters and Men: My Head Is An Animal
The Icelandic six-piece, indie/folk band,Of Monsters and Men, have come out of nowhere and completely dominated the Irish airwaves recently. Goodbye Somebody I Used To Know and hello to the newest indie song caressing our eardrums, Little Talks.
Of Monsters and Men’s debut album My Head Is An Animal is the embodiment of what an indie album should be. It’s full of melancholy and some nostalgia and makes you want to pop on your granny’s cardigan and go for a picnic on the beach at dusk. It’s the kind of album instagram hipster edits were made for.
You’ll no doubt have heard the melodic female/male voices of the lead singers Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar Þórhallsson (yeah, we can’t pronounce them either, just make sounds and hope for the best) floating in to your day via FM104,98FM, Spin103.8 and every other major radio station in Ireland.
My Head Is An Animal sounds like a mix of all the popular indie/folk bands around like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Fleet Foxes. The track King and Lionheart sounds like a collaboration between Ellie Goulding & Mumford and Sons. Nanna’s voice is very similar to Goulding’s but at times sounds more similar to Lisa Hannigan in its style.
Enjoyable earworms – yes they exist!
The first track on the album, Dirty Paws should be the band’s next single because, like Little Talks, it has that kind of epic feel to it, it’s catchy and gets stuck in your head – it’s full of energy. The kind of song that’s not too folky for mainstream stations but folky enough to be quirky and different to the usual crap they play.
Ragnar isn’t to be put in the shadow of Nanna’s female vocals. His voice is more enigmatic and harder to compare to others than Nanna’s. In Mountain Sound Ragnar gets to show off his voice some more and also in Your Bones. Of the two, Your Bones is the better song, with an old Celtic-type melody to it. It would go down well in a packed, Dublin pub after a few jars.
Of Monsters and Men play The Olympia Theatre on February 21st, 2013. The track Six Weeks sounds like it was made for large crowds and gigs and is sure to be a brilliant song to get the entire crowd singing along. It’s almost football-chant like, a bit of an anthem and definitely a song to make the audience feel inspired and connected to the band. A song everyone can connect with at once and purely enjoy and have fun with.
Although the album does sound like various artists, there’s a surprise with From Finner. It’s a heavier song but the presence of an accordion used sparingly gives it a great kick. Why aren’t there more accordions used in music? It’s not reserved for the French although it does add a bit of Frenchness to the song. A message to musicians: French it up now and then, oui?
For all their punchy, enthusiastic songs there’s a few slower, more chilled out songs on the album like Slow and Steady. It does what it says on the tin, after the exuberance of Dirty Paws and King and Lionheart the token ‘chill’ song is very welcome. It’s nothing special and wouldn’t make a great single but, between the bigger songs, it fits in perfectly and gives us a chance to rest before bopping around again.
There’s also that one song Love Love Love, the song where the Ben & Jerry’s comes out as you get that 100-yard-stare and remember some tale of heartache and feel sorry for yourself and tearily sing along with the line “You love love love when you know I can’t love”. It’s a sombre love song we can all cry together over.
The problem with My Head Is An Animal is that it starts of fantastically with Dirty Paws and continues that anthem like streak of songs for half the album, but the other half is much quieter and subdued and it kind of fizzles out with Sloom, Lakehouse and Yellow Light. They’d put you to sleep and who wants that at a gig?
Monsters of melodies
Over all Of Monsters and Men have created a decent debut album that’s a pleasant, at times surprising, first listen. They are the masters of catchy melodies but not so memorable lyrics and when they use trumpets, group vocals and the female/male lead altogether, they ultimately create good songs.
As for radio airplay, Little Talks will probably be the only Of Monsters and Men single you’re going to hear on the big stations because it just about suits what they play. Plus the song has been made huge everywhere, they can’t ignore it, just like Gotye. PhantomFM will more than likely continue to play other releases from the album but if you’re looking for more then get then get the album in its entirety.
Best tracks on the album: Dirty Paws, King and Lionheart, Six Weeks.
Of Monsters and Men play The Olympia on February 21st,2013.