Album of the Week: Of Monsters and Men, 'Fever Dream'


Of Monsters and Men, 'Fever Dream'
Of Monsters and Men, 'Fever Dream' (Republic)
Mark Wheat - Album of the Week: Of Monsters and Men, 'Fever Dream'
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Nearly ten years ago this band won the hearts of their fellow Icelanders at The Iceland Airwaves Festival and one of their first songs "Little Talks" was strong enough to carry that goodwill to the rest of the planet and it became one of the biggest hits ever to emerge from this tiny island that consistently punches above it's weight. Now they hold the record for being the most viewed Icelanders in the world through social media and YouTube, beyond even Bjork and Sigur Ros. Especially considering such an enormous explosion in their career trajectory, the hurdle of the difficult sophomore album was easily undertaken and their world tours just got bigger and longer. All of this led to a fever dream for the members of the band, hence the name of this their third release after taking three years out of the spotlight.

In a long conversation with Grapevine, the local Reykjavik newspaper, Nanna and Raggi, the female and male lead duo of the band who write together and both sing and play guitar, explained how they approached the writing and recording of this album differently. They had always in the past written separately on acoustic guitars and brought them to the rest of the band in rehearsal. This time they often sat down with laptops to begin the composing process and some tracks started with no guitars at all. This explains the melding of their newer electronic washes of sound married to their traditional acoustic roots. They also jettisoned their earlier attempts to be "super democratic" needing each others ideas to be totally accepted by the band. Now some places on this album are singularly designed by one of them. "On Fever Dream there are moments when people shine by themselves," says Raggi. They're also ripping up their own playbook around the way they make videos, using animation in the past not wanting to have to act themselves. But in the new one there's Nanna crawling around on the floor.

The album opener is a big bombastic synth laden homage to an "Alligator" which will sound marvelous in the big venues that they'll need to fill on their forthcoming world tour. Then the next track "Ahay" is more of their ethereal folk harmonies, as if to quickly say, "Don't worry not everything has changed with Of Monsters and Men!" "Vulture, Vulture" is short and poppy in a Fleetwood Mac/Heart kinda way? It's sandwiched between a glorious ballad, "Waiting For The Snow," and another quintessential Of Monsters and Men song "Wild Roses" both of which will sound great belted out by audiences in stadiums across the planet this year. It's no coincidence that both those song title refer to nature. These guys, seemingly like all the best Icelandic artists, are intimately connected to our surroundings and inspired by the beauty around them. I'm glad they're back and revived by recharging in the wonderful confines of Iceland ready again to take on the world. Traveling on tour and seeing the rest of our countries must be like visiting a different planet for them, as often people say when they visit Iceland.

The record was released last week and for the first time in ten years Of Monsters and Men will play the Iceland Airwaves in November, and will play Surly Brewing Festival Field September 14.

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