Of Monsters and Men
My Head is an Animal


4.0
excellent

Review

by SowingSeason EMERITUS
April 5th, 2012 | 247 replies | 38,377 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Full of life and full of love.

This 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.

My Head Is an Animal, while consistent across the board, does present us with a few gems worthy of additional recognition. Where ‘Little Talks’ sits atop that list, ‘Mountain Sound’ is another track that has “hit” written all over it, sounding as elated as can be between its ridiculously catchy male-to-female vocal tradeoffs and a chorus that could be hummed all day long without getting old. ‘From Finner’ is another standout – not so much because it has mainstream or crossover potential – but because it is quite simply perfectly executed mid-tempo indie folk. ‘Six Weeks’ is the heaviest song in Of Monsters and Men’s catalogue, with amped-up guitas and intermittent bursts of loudly and urgently sung verses. The most rewarding song on the entire recod, however, may be ‘Lakehouse’ - a track that commences with acoustic strums, soothing vocals performed both separately and together, and an orchestral section that wraps things up in celebratory fashion. It’s a fitting end to such a delicate, picturesque beginning, and the way that it erupts into an impassioned frenzy gives all of My Head Is an Animal an extra jolt of energy. So whether you like your indie music to be poignant works of folk or entertaining and lively exercises in indie-pop, Of Monsters and Men has something to satisfy your craving.

As taken from a line in ‘Little Talks’, My Head Is an Animal is “full of life an full of love.” From start to finish, a silver-lining mentality pervades the record. That’s part of its charm – the simple fact that it can be so uniformly happy in a way that isn’t repetitive or annoying and still manages to touch on various aspects of folk, acoustic singer/songwritership, indie, and rock. My Head Is an Animal’s largest detractor may be that it doesn’t commit to one camp or the other; it isn’t pristine enough for the hippest of hipsters and it isn’t soulless enough for fans of “made for radio” music. But that’s a game that can’t be won anyway, so we might as well enjoy Of Monsters and Men’s debut for what it is: a strong-willed, beautifully composed piece of modern day indie-folk.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Emeritus
April 5th 2012



14506 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I swear I'm not becoming soft, this week has just been crazy good. And I say that with yet another positive review on deck for Plains of Oblivion.

Also, I had to edit the singers' names to just their first because their Icelandic last names were messing up the coding.

Also, I know this was released in 2011 in Iceland and maybe a select few other areas, but today marks its worldwide release.

heyadam
April 5th 2012



1692 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I can't find a physical copy of this anywhere, but the local indie music station in Northern Ohio plays "Little Talks" all of the time and I love it. I broke down and downloaded this though.

Digging: The Hotelier - Home, Like NoPlace Is There

SowingSeason
Emeritus
April 5th 2012



14506 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I heard Little Talks back in summer of 2011 because of a co-worker, been waiting for the album's U.S. release ever since.

heyadam
April 5th 2012



1692 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

No stores around here have it yet that I've seen. I love the album so far, I'm about half way through haha. I feel the comparison with Mumford and Sons is reasonable, but this album seems a lot more honest than Sigh No More.

SowingSeason
Emeritus
April 5th 2012



14506 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

yeah definitely man...I like it better for that exact reason

they're both catchy indie-folk that has broken into the mainstream though

TheGardener
April 5th 2012



149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Just heard Little Talks, so far so good. Will check this out.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2012



7008 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Wait so Iceland has musicians other than Bjork?

Digging: Caleb McAlpine - All Things New

Sanders
April 5th 2012



2323 Comments


I don't know which I enjoy more, your reviews or your avatar.

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
April 5th 2012



2675 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Dude this came out last year?... Oh wait, you know that.

I prefer the old album art. grumblegrumble

foxxxyroxxx
April 5th 2012



496 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

im listening to this hey

Anthracks
April 5th 2012



3639 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

with the stuff that people are comparing this to it better be good

Digging: Tobacco - Ultima II Massage

StrangerofSorts
Contributing Reviewer
April 5th 2012



2675 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's pretty good - lots of really cutesy indie-folk basically. Not much to it but it does its job.

Love Love Love: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VY2uf2QShhc
and Yellow Light: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6vAn25I4h4
are really good summer chill-out songs.

foxxxyroxxx
April 5th 2012



496 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

great on first listen

Anthracks
April 5th 2012



3639 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

never been so mislead. i hate this kind of music

foxxxyroxxx
April 5th 2012



496 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

youre awful

Anthracks
April 5th 2012



3639 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Average Rating: 4.79

Tyrael
April 5th 2012



20394 Comments


orly

Digging: Lantlos - Melting Sun

Altmer
April 5th 2012



5652 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is indeed awesome and my band has even started to play Little Talks together (we don't do the accordeon though...)

This is a great record.

Iceland is awesome and I hate you all.

BallsToTheWall
April 5th 2012



44164 Comments


Dio loves you, don't forget that Altmer.

Tyrael
April 5th 2012



20394 Comments


wow

Altmer sighting



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