By Richard Wink
Man, those cats really belt out the words. Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar “Raggi” Þórhallsson go back and forth, call and response, songs sung with a passion you can’t fake. Nanna’s yelps and staring at the stars innocence works well with the sensitive tone of Ragnar’s voice, thanks to this vocal duo Of Monsters and Men have garnered quite the following, and they’re only getting bigger. My Head Is An Animal has been available quite some time in Europe and the States, but only now, late August, does it get an official release in the UK.
Unfairly the sextet have been compared to the Arcade Fire, and although they share some similarities, more so with Funeral era then the melodrama of The Suburbs - My Head Is An Animal contains many natural moments of unabashed joy, lots of “la la la’s” and arms aloft anthemic singalongs. Many of the songs also contain elements of that quirky Nordic pop sound that has in recent years infiltrated the US/British chart dominance.
‘Dirty Paws’ sets us off on a journey; it is a folk tale of Brian Jacques-esque proportions describing battling beasts on some kind of dramatic quest. The storytelling could almost come from the latest hit young adult fiction book, and the wondrous sense of escapism. We run through the woods and across mountains on ‘Mountain Sound’, the song has vibrant hooks that suck you into the band’s imaginary world.
The bold heights reached on ‘From Finner’, with gorgeous accordion and a life affirming chorus, and radio hit ‘Little Talks’, which is written from the perspective of a widow who is talking to her dead husband and is not sure if she is going crazy or not – “Some days I feel like I’m wrong when I am right / Your mind is playing tricks on you my dear”, display the band’s knack for writing a compelling song you can fall in love with.
One of the more interesting elements of this album is the band’s ability to use percussion to create tension. ‘Your Bones’ builds fantastically, as does the closer ‘Yellow Light’, both songs erupt in triumph.
It is surprising that folk rock has been so successful in the last five years, but it seems that people yearn for an escape to a more wholesome time, a time which only ever existed in fables and fairytales. Of Monsters and Men seem destined for success with their cute harmonies and surprising emotional depth, there is elegance about their sound, and they seem like they already know the full extent of their strengths. Listeners, close your eyes and get swept away in the boundless elation.