From the first time I heard “Little Talks” last year, I thirsted for more Of Monsters and Men. Finally, they have released their debut album My Head Is An Animal; ladies and gents, it does not disappoint.
After making a splash at this year’s SXSW, it is the perfect timing for their debut release in the States. With 2011’s EP Into the Woods (given a well-deserved 9.0 by MEB staffer Jarrod Church) and notable single “Little Talks” both charting at #1 in Iceland, this album had some hype to live up to. Luckily, My Head Is An Animal has proven to be everything we had hoped for and more.
For those who don’t know, Of Monsters and Men is an Icelandic sextet with a sound like Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes crossed with First Aid Kit. They have garnered quite a following prior to their debut full-length, and they have certainly lived up to the hype. While you may know of them, keep in mind that “Little Talks” — while charting at #13 on Billboard’s Alternative chart — is not all that this album has to offer.
“Slow and Steady” embodies the entire track just with its title. A slower-paced track, there is a consistent and steady beat throughout. While not the standard pop-fare, this track is undeniably able to shine on its own.
With an infectious rhythm and unique intro, “Six Weeks” is one of the best songs on the album. This track is just one example of how the entire album manages to showcase both vocalists’ talents in varied ways. Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar “Raggi” Þórhallsson manage to be a guy-girl vocal duo that sounds different from anything we may have heard in the past; this is no Belle & Sebastian or The Civil Wars. Of Monsters and Men have managed to carve their own niche and it is easy to see that they won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
Their staying power is evidenced more than anything else in their varied sound. The gorgeous introspection of “Love Love Love” is vastly different than the impassioned “King and Lionheart.” From the memorable piano beat of “From Finner” to the full-choir chorus of “Dirty Paws,” this album is varied and strong enough to make a fan out of anyone.
If you are new to this band, you cannot go wrong by starting out with this record. For an honest song full of love, see “Sloom”; for an infectious pop song, see “Little Talks”; for a folk-driven masterpiece, see “Lakehouse.” Regardless of where you start with My Head Is An Animal, you will end up satisfied.