Review Summary: Kids today love that emotionally charged folk
At any given time one — or all — of the great purveyors of new music (NPR, Pitchfork, Stereogum, Spin, et. al.) is most likely super-stoked on a particular band or project. While Stereogum blows their wad over the exhaustingly inaccessible new Flaming Lips project, NPR has the adorable Icelandic folk outfit Of Monsters and Men in a half-nelson dragging them around the party saying, “Dude! Have you met these kids from Iceland"! It’s like if Arcade Fire and Edward Sharpe had children and Peter, Paul and Mary were their babysitters!” They went so far as to even cheat, and put their debut album on their best of 2011 list even though the album didn’t come out in the US until April 3 — to which I wonder “Who cares"”
Regardless of their NPR hype-machine, the adorable kids from Reykjavik have the chops and the production to back up their bark — and they clearly understand the significance silly sweaters and dirty flannel play in an indie band’s success, so I can’t deny Of Monsters and Men will ride the success of My Head is an Animal for far longer than is palatable, just like Mumford and Sons. Kids these days love that emotionally charged folk, I tell ya’.
The first song I heard off the debut was “Little Talks”— a swathing pub shanty of sorts that wears on your patience with each increasing, “Hey!” and its obligatory trumpet honks. What Of Monsters and Men lack in picking a single that accurately represents their sound, they more than make up for in writing numerous single-worthy material. They are folk-pop chemists, cleverly mixing a deadly potency of group chants, intricately catchy choruses, handclaps, acoustic guitar and lyrics chock full of hormonal metadata.
What’s surprising is just how good My Head is an Animal is as a fledgling endeavor. The variability between concepts is both engaging and self-aware giving the execution the sincerity it needs. The vocal interplay between the female and male vocalists (whose names contain more symbols than letters) is that kind of harmony that resonates through the universe like it was meant to be and the songwriting is both immature and imaginative giving them plenty of room to spread their wings in the coming years. The only thing Of Monsters and Men will suffer from is market saturation, alienating them from the ranks of audiophiles who can’t stand to have their music found by other people’s ears.