If you haven't already succumbed to the charms of Icelandic six piece Of Monsters and Men then brace yourself. With a top ten album in the US Billboard charts and a number one here in Ireland, Of Monsters and Men are a band on the rise. They have shot to prominence on the back of this debut album My Head is an Animal and it is easy to see why. Their brand of acoustic based folk pop whimsy seems to have captured the zeitgeist right now, but it would be wrong to dismiss Of Monsters and Men as some passing fad - My Head is an Animal is a magnificent collection of rousing and heartfelt pop songs.
This is as surefooted a debut as you are likely to hear in a very long time -it delivers one sparkling tune after another with barely a pause for breath. The blueprint is a simple but effective one –boy/ girl vocals, acoustic instrumentation, sing –a- long choruses and classic pop melodies that go straight for the heart each and every time.
In the hands of others, this combination may come across as twee and contrived but it is testament to their song-writing skills that Of Monsters and Men carry it off with such aplomb. The dual vocals of Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar Þórhallsson are an obvious strength; Hilmarsdóttir sounds like a latter day Harriet Wheeler of 90s indie pop darlings The Sundays while Þórhallsson's more bruised and husky delivery acts as a perfect foil.
Picking out highlights seems almost churlish – at times, My Head is an Animal seems like one long, extended, gloriously catchy chorus. But tracks like 'Dirty Paws', 'Little Talks', 'Six Weeks' and 'Love Love Love' prove that beneath the sugary pop confection, there lies a bruised and beating heart.
With My Head is an Animal, Of Monsters and Men have demonstrated that there is a place for sincere, well crafted and beautifully rendered pop music, that doesn't rely on the might of MTV or a manufactured image to strike a chord with a wider audience. Resistance is futile - Of Monsters and Men are here to steal your heart and prove that pop music is still something worth fighting for.
Review by Paul Page