My Head Is an Animal is the debut full-length from Icelandic indie-pop outfit Of Monsters and Men—and if this record is any indication, we are in for some real ear candy over the next several years.
While Iceland has become mainly known for spawning more experimental acts like Sigur Ros and Bjork, Of Monsters and Men is producing a sound that is far more accessible overall, while still remaining more indie than pop. They first rose to prominence in 2010 when they won Iceland’s national battle-of-the-bands competition (“Musiktilraunir”–don’t ask me to pronounce it), and consequently were one of the few indie bands these days to get signed to a label before actually recording a record of their own.
Listening to My Head Is an Animal, it’s easy to see why Universal Republic took an interest in this band. The opening track “Dirty Paws” grabs you instantly with little more than an acoustic guitar and a melody sung by male and female in unison—and it only gets better from there. The songs are intensely catchy and singable, many of them tailor-made for concert crowd sing-alongs (which makes me reeeally hope they will tour the States—I can only imagine what kind of live show they put on). They effortlessly blend elements of rock, pop and folk into a sound that simply dares you not to smile, stomp, chant, and occasionally dance.
High points of the record? Really too many to count—but some of the must-listens include “Mountain Sound,” “Six Weeks” and “Little Talks,” among others—and the haunting melody of “Your Bones” simply gave me chills. The record’s only weakness (if you can call it that) is the extended journey into mellow territory toward the end of the tracklist. We definitely could use a breather after all that chanting and singing along, but it left me wishing for something a little more upbeat to close it all out. More my personal opinion than anything else.
Critics are already making comparisons to Arcade Fire and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, but I think it’s too early for that kind of thing. Of Monsters and Men has a unique vibe that I think will easily set them into their own niche. My Head Is an Animal is one of the best debuts I’ve heard in years. This is a band destined for greatness, a band you need to hear—and most likely WILL hear—in days to come.
ALBUM RATING: 4.5 stars (out of five)