Of Monsters, Men, Animals

Courtesy of Universal Music Group

Every now and then, apart from spewing out ash clouds that bring the world to a literal standstill, the volcanic island of Iceland erupts with magnificent and breathtaking music. Björk, Sigur Rós and Jónsi & Alex are a testament to that. This time around, it is a six-piece dual vocal band, Of Monsters and Men, that must stand the test of time.

Their debut album, “My Head Is an Animal,” bears traces of bands such as Mumford & Sons, Beirut and The xx. However, these traces are easily forgotten and effortlessly replaced by the unique sound Of Monsters and Men.

The album opens with the track “Dirty Paws.” This energetic, fast-paced song is the perfect start to the album in that it gives the listeners a taste of what awaits them in the next 56 minutes or so.

“King and Lionheart” follows suit and opens with the vocals of Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir singing in her dulcet tone, “Taking over this town, they should worry.” A guitar riff that slowly includes a kick drum and a melodica accompanies her, with Raggi þórhallsson’s vocals taking the backseat.

“Slow and Steady” takes a step back and is the first slow song of the album, perfect for one of those rainy days. The vocals of Nanna and Raggi singing, “I move slow and steady / But I feel like a waterfall,” add depth and emotion to the already beautiful song.

The pace slowly picks up with “From Finner.” The accordion, claps and chants throughout the chorus transport you to the sunny streets of Paris brimming with music and joie de vivre from every corner of the city.

The band’s dual vocals are best showcased in the next song, “Little Talks.” This foot-tapping, pulsating song has an amazing horns section and reaches the zenith in terms of a perfect song. It does so not only because it has amazing music but also because it is backed by strong vocals and lyrics like.

Vocally, Raggi takes the center stage with the songs “Six Weeks” and “Your Bones,” which continue lyrically with the thread of nature and love. The songs are sandwiched between “Love Love Love,” a soulful ballad about a one-sided relationship sung by Nanna: “Because you love, love, love when you know I can’t love.”

One of the highlights is “Sloom,” which is nestled towards the end track listing. Nanna and Raggi are reunited after “Little Talks,” this time around for a watered down track with just vocals and acoustic guitar. This is the reason why the song stands out; it reveals that even after you take away the layers of amazing instrumentation and leave just the vocals, Of Monsters and Men still have the ability to shine. The album ends on a soft note with the fitting songs “Lakehouse” and “Yellow Light.”

“My Head Is an Animal” engulfs its listeners with the imaginative world of “the beast with four dirty paws” where “you’re a king and I’m a lionheart.” Whether “My Head Is an Animal” tops the charts or not, it’s recommended that you buy a copy, as you do not simply listen to their music; you experience it.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5