Review : Of Monsters and Men - My Head is an Animal
SputnikmusicThis Icelandic six-piece folk band is off to one hell of a start. Before releasing anything officially, they won Musiktilraunir, an annual battle of the bands competition in their home country. During the summer of 2011, their single ‘Little Talks’ began to receive heavy play on Philadelphia radio stations, and before too long its infectious blend of stripped down folk and indie-pop caught fire across the rest of the United States. As word of Of Monsters and Men continues to spread across the world, it is clear that mainstream success will be in the cards sooner rather than later. Many have called them the Mumford & Sons of Iceland, which while the comparison does hold some water, it doesn’t do justice to the sense of novelty that they bring to the table. On My Head Is an Animal, nothing feels as contrived as the material on the aforementioned group’s Sigh No More, possessing an ideal mix of accessible tunes and memorable musicianship. If only one thing has become clear on Of Monsters and Men’s debut record, it is that they have the raw talent to do whatever they want to - whether it ends up being popular or not. And that appeal alone makes them worth a glance from fans of alternative music everywhere.
My Head Is an Animal wastes no time in cutting right to the band’s greatest strength: the dual vocals of Nanna and Ragnar. ‘Dirty Paws’ opens with a beautifully sung harmony between the co-singers before it gradually picks up the pace with full-sounding drum beats, chants of “hey!”, and subtle piano cuts that give the song a sense of unspoken eloquence. It’s really the perfect opening track, because not only is it one of the strongest momets on the record, but it also offers listeners a glimpse of what My Head Is an Animal entails. The key word there is glimpse, however, because there is still plenty that unravels over the album’s course that is unexpected. One such instance would be ‘Slow and Steady’, a slow burner consisting of nothing but a gentle duet between Nanna and Ragnar, “climaxing” with restrained drum fills that roll in and out like morning waves on the ocean. The album doesn’t have any off-the-wall style or genre changes over the course of its runtime, but it manages to avoid the type of stagnancy popularized by many indie bands today – the kind that seems to say “we know what the listeners expect of us, and we are going to do exactly that.” What we end up with, resultantly, is something that will please fans of the acclaimed single ‘Little Talks’ without sacrificing Of Monsters and Men’s attempts to branch out and explore their sound in a little more detail....full text
BeatsperminuteBeautiful,” “majestic,” and “inspiring” are terms that can easily characterize the country of Iceland. It can also accurately describe the music that emanates from it. Need evidence? Then look no further than Sigur Rós and Björk – Iceland’s leading pioneers of the native music scene for more than a decade. But lately, another Icelandic band has gone from making ripples to waves across the Atlantic. Meet Of Monsters and Men, a six-piece indie-folk outfit from the capital city of Reykjavík that formed only two years ago, and already has achieved worldwide recognition, thanks in part to their song “Little Talks” receiving radio air play. Though their debut full-length, My Head is an Animal, was released last year only in Iceland, this week will mark its worldwide release via Universal Records.
My Head is an Animal opens with “Dirty Paws,” a number that begins with delicate plucking of an acoustic guitar and the dual male/female vocals of Nanna Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar þórhallsson. About a minute in, a burst of joyous energy suddenly kicks in that’s led by drummer Arnar Hilmarsson thumping bass drum, backed by choral melodies....full text
BaeblemusicIceland: a tiny island nation of roughly 320,000 people. It has no standing army. It is at the mercy of the hundreds of active and inactive volcanoes that lie below its geothermally unstable surface. Despite no major industries (other than fishing), Iceland remained one of the wealthiest nations of the burgeoning European Union. To add to this miniscule nation's exotic appeal, it has produced two of the most consistently excellent and ambitious artists of the 90s and 2000s, IDM siren Bjork and post-rock/ambient icons Sigur Ros. Well, we can finally add another band to the list of astonishingly talented acts to emerge from the volcanoes and fjords of Iceland, six person folk pop act Of Monsters and Men, whose debut album My Head Is An Animal marks the band as a force to be reckoned with.
Of Monsters and Men rose to prominence after winning the 2010 Musiktilraunir, which is Iceland's national battle of the bands-esque competition. Before long, this led to a major label signing, Universal, before they had even released their first real album. The band is that good, and if you were worried that a major label debut from a mostly anonymous band stateside would lead to a sloppy and amateurish premiere, you can rest those worries aside. My Head Is an Animal joins Cults' self-titled debut as an album that will instantly shoot Of Monsters and Men to the top of everyone's watercooler music conversation. With a sound that can only be described as Arcade Fire's more folk-oriented younger brother, Of Monsters and Men craft their own musical soundscapes to create an album experience that is as familiar as it is unknown....full text
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