Icelandic band Of Monsters And Men sees dead people, according to their debut album, “My Head Is An Animal,” released April 3.
A main theme of many of the tracks is the creeping sensation of being watched by “howling ghosts.” In several songs, a boy and girl wander through an old house, reliving memories while hearing voices and other mysterious sounds. Though these songs are fascinating in a haunting way, they certainly do not make “My Head Is An Animal” an album for everyone. The few love ballads that are interspersed between the ghostly songs become all the more welcome.
Still, “My Head Is An Animal” is overall a pleasant listen. The album contains twelve soft-spoken, easy-listening tracks that are distinctly foreign. Nanna Brynd?s Hilmarsd??ttir and Ragnar “Raggi” ?ž??rhallsson are the band’s main vocalists. Their singing is eerie, but their voices mesh beautifully, and both shine individually as well. In song such as “Little Talks” and “Yellow Light,” Nanna adopts the persona of a frightened young girl, with Raggi as the boy who takes her hand and takes her away from the “ghosts.”
The standout track on the album is “Little Talks,” the single that was released by the band in December. “Little Talks” features prominently the album’s recurring motif of a trumpet and a series of chanting la-la’s. “Little Talks” is upbeat and catchy enough to be a potential summer hit, despite it’s dreary subject nature (Nanna talking to the voices in her head).
“Lake House” and “Yellow Light” close out the album, reinforcing the theme of haunted houses, but the light and intricate melody of each is heartening.
The lyrics are, of course, full of phantasmagoric imagery. In “King and Lionheart,” Nanna sings “And in the sea that’s painted black, creatures lurk below the deck, but you’re a king and I’m a lionheart.” The entire album follows this same precedent: frightening lyrics are not so terrible when paired with a bouncy, cheery melody. What’s to be afraid of?
It’s not a loud, splashy, or particularly memorable debut, but Of Monsters and Men have an interesting sound on “My Head Is An Animal” that shows promise.
Erin Bell can be reached at erin.bell@student. shu.edu.