Album Review: Of Monsters and Men - My Head Is An Animal

by Mark Wheat

Of Monsters and Men... what are they destined for? We'll see. Perhaps nothing big should be considered for these guys yet, if ever. I hate that we seem to do that to our faves in this biz. I have a soft spot in my heart for these guys because, as a Musichead knows, when a band that you feel like you self-discovered then makes it big, it's a very very special feeling. I'd love to lose these guys to the mainstream, whatever that means these days, if that's what they want.

I found their song "Little Talks" on a compilation of recent Icelandic music last summer as we were preparing for a short stop over in Reykjavik on the way to Europe for family visits. I loved it immediately and definitely thought it might make a hit in the footsteps of Mumfords and Edward Sharpe. We didn't get to see them while in Iceland, but I read a glowing review of their live show in the local paper, which kept their name in my head.

I played the song a few times on my evening shift when I got back, but it wasn't added to the regular rotation of songs back then as there was no real context for playing it for anyone else. The album wasn't out over here and they weren't planning to tour.

Then in October our friends on KEXP went to cover the Icelandic Airwaves festival and they were one of the highlighted acts. Something was building.

KEXP's (and ex-Program Director of Rev 105) Kevin Cole had their album in his 2011 Top Ten, even though it was still an import. They were featured on their stage again for SXSW, one of several high profile gigs for them at the hugely influential gathering in Austin TX. It is truly inspiring as "an old radio guy" to see the power of public radio stations across the country influencing the trends within modern music consumption.

Current fans have responded strongly to that song "Little Talks" as well, making it #1 on the Chart Show for the past few weeks, inducted into the Hall Of Fame. Thank you. You and the rest of the public radio audience across America have enabled these six young musicians to come to Austin, Texas and experience something truly magical. A massive crowd at a legendary venue like Stubbs singing along to songs that are 'not yet available' in the traditional sense of that word in the USA.

That was truly amazing for me to be a part of.

I have to say on that night, they almost lost me as a fan four songs in! I have always disliked it when bands sing "lalala's." It never has worked for me. As a lyrics guy, I think they should try to write something and leave it up to us in the audience to go "lala" if we don't know the words. It's just a personal pet peeve. I can understand how it works to a live audience, ironically that might not know your songs, to get them involved early on and these guys obviously honed their material through live performance, there's many shouting along parts that can some off awkwardly on record. Three out of those first four songs had a lot of "lalala's"!!

Now I know that they are the last two songs of this album and the first, so if you listen on CD around the change-over they get bled into each other and again almost turn me off, but.. there is enough elsewhere on this debut to warrant me caring so much about that one song and the fate of it's makers. In fact, they are already playing new songs which seem to be going in a good direction.

"Mountain Sound" is the next big hit, I think, and perhaps the rest will grow, but I am sure they will develop as a band, watching the way they delivered at SXSW. A magic touch has been placed upon them by the expression of love from this new USA audience for a group of young Icelandic fabulists intent on telling great tales set to rollicking tunes about monsters and men. Enjoy.

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  • Of Monsters and Men perform in The Current studio Icelandic indie-pop six-piece Of Monsters and Men have found themselves a runaway indie hit in the wake of their EP, "Into the Woods," and full-length album, "My Head Is an Animal," which will be released in the United States on April 3.