Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My Head is an Animal

Of Monsters and Men's album cover, My Head is an Animal

Any time an album or a song really resonates with me, I like to write about it. This week, I want to tell you my thoughts on the debut album My Head is an Animal by Of Monsters and Men, just recently released. You have likely heard their single, “Little Talks,” since it’s been played on the radio over the past few months. The song just asks to be sung along to, the lyrics are deep, yet the music has a happy sort of energy to it.

Some people have compared Of Monsters and Men with Arcade Fire, and I can agree with that—they both have the same passion and driving rhythm in their songs. Of Monsters and Men has also been compared to Mumford & Sons in terms of their folky sound, although I think the similarities dwindle from there. The band also has both male and female vocals, comparable to the relatively new-on-the-scene duo Civil Wars.

Who are these people? Of Monsters and Men is a six-person group from Iceland, each person bearing a very intricately-spelled Icelandic name, and you can find out more about them by following the links below. They won an Iceland battle of the bands in 2010, and from there, their fame seeped out from the tiny icy island to the rest of the world. According to a recent Rolling Stone article, they didn’t really expect to end up touring outside of Iceland. What an amazing surprise it must have been for them to see how many thousands upon thousands of people outside Iceland love their music!

I bought the album a month or two ago, basing my decision completely on my love of “Little Talks.” I hoped there would be at least two or three other songs out of the 13 on the album that I would like. To my great satisfaction and excitement, I found my soul resonating with every single song in some way. All the songs on the album are congruent, yet they vary enough to make each one special in and of itself.

I’ll tell you about two other tracks that stand out to me. Even though you could easily listen to the whole album in its entirety every time, sometimes I like to repeat these two:

The first is “Dirty Paws.” It’s the first track on the album; it’s a story about an animal war. Each verse is punctuated afterward by a musical interlude, and by the end of the last verse, the male and female vocals intertwine into a gorgeous, intense harmony that gives me goosebumps every time. The essence of the song makes me feel like I’m listening to a very important legend embedded with a life lesson or something—“Dirty Paws” is powerful like that.

The second track I repeat constantly is “Yellow Light.” Toward the end of the album, the song is almost 5 minutes long but only has two short verses at the beginning. The last three minutes of the song consists of a magical, mysterious melody that would drift and wander if it if wasn’t carried along by a marching beat and some soft background vocals. I can just imagine the band getting together to jam out this song and just playing the same little progression over and over and over for a long time, getting lost in the sweet sound, thinking, “Yes!” The music carries me into an inspirational place where I just want to daydream or write or let my soul float a little...if that makes sense. Try listening to this song in the quiet darkness of night.

All in all, the harmonious theme that attracted me to this album is that, to borrow a term from a song from Weezer’s Red album, these are heart songs. They come from the heart. They reach out, extending past the boundaries of the album itself into the listener’s heart. They pump forth life like a heart, beat with energy like a heart, and proffer love like hearts do. They could very well be songs that soundtrack a significant memory in your life and weave into your story. For me, they will always remind me of the summer of 2012.