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Key Tracks: "Little Talks," "King and Lionheart," "Yellow Light"
Of Monsters and Men kick off their debut album with some delicate Freelance Whales-esque guitar picking and a melody quite similar to "Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Like any of those bands? Then you will love this album.
Iceland has managed yet again to present the world with a group of talented musicians who have already sold out almost all of their spring tour dates in the U.S. and Europe. Their folky, playful sound captures their innocent, yet profound lyrics echoed by a chorus of voices.
Garnering fame from their win at Músiktilraunir, a battle of the bands held every year in Iceland, Of Monsters and Men grabbed the attention of the U.S. music scene. The University of Washington’s radio station KEXP noticed the band when they recorded a live living room session of the band's from My Head is an Animal “Little Talks.”
Much of the album centers on the animal theme labeled in its title including “Six Weeks,” “King and Lionheart” and “Dirty Paws.” Each song has its own story and accompanying melody that will be on repeat in your head for the rest of the day. They even throw in a nifty accordion part here and there throughout the album.
The track “Little Talks” guides listeners on a journey through an unstable mind plagued by demons and uncertainties. A glimmer of hope for this seemingly doomed individual is sung by the voice of male co-vocalist Ragnar “Raggi” Þórhallsson. Female co-vocalist Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir begins the song with, “I don’t like walking around this old and empty house.” Þórhallsson quickly reassures her by singing, “So hold my hand / I’ll walk with you, my dear.” This back and forth dialogue between Hilmarsdóttir and Þórhallsson continues throughout the verse until Þórhallsson finally ends with, “It’s killing me to see you this way.”
The upbeat, bouncy tempo of “Little Talks” is deceiving as Hilmarsdóttir continues to battle with herself. In the end she finds solace in finding somewhere to be sheltered from her own thoughts: “This ship will carry our bodies safe to shore.”
"Little Talks" is not the only example of a profound track on the record. The entire album is full of thought-provoking displays of musical and lyrical talent. “King and Lionheart” tells the story of a king who finds his “lionheart.” This allusion to the lion in the "Wizard of Oz" demonstrates one’s journey from cowardice to self-discovery and bravery--a trait commonly found in a ruling king.
The song starts out with shy guitar strumming and builds into a confident beat characterized by heavy drumming. The music itself becomes braver as the character in the story gains courage.
The album ends on a calming note with “Yellow Light.” It contains two simple verses and leads into a lilt of vocal choruses. It then builds into a loud, steady drumbeat that fades to an enchanting piano finish.
The entire theme of My Head is an Animal is the overcoming of obstacles. Each song has some kind of battle woven into its lyrics. Some are face-offs against personal evils, while others are external battles one must face each day. No matter who you are, you can find a way to relate to this album on a personal level.
Of Monsters and Men will continue working their way up in the musical charts. This won’t be the last thing heard from the relatable and talented group of six.
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