Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Of Monsters and Men: 'Beneath The Skin'

When Icelandic group Of Monsters and Men stepped into the limelight following the release of 2011's My Head is An Animal, the appetite for thundering, Mumford-esque indie-folk was at its peak. 

Skip ahead four years, when even Mumford stripped their most recent effort of swelling chords and folklore, and you'll find Of Monsters and Men trying to, and only mildly succeeding at, making similar changes on their sophomore, Beneath The Skin. Icy-voiced Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir told Rolling Stone to expect the first and second albums to sound "pretty polar opposite" - which definitely isn't true - but, they're moving in the right direction.

Beneath The Skin is a moodier MHIAA, that has expectedly gorgeous moments (the album opener and the ballad "Organs"), and a few yawners - but is still built on shimmery acoustic chords and strings. And not that I was expecting this, but there are no less wilderness metaphors. Songs are named Wolves Without Teeth, Black Water, I Of The Storm, and you'll be hard-pressed to go three beats without hearing something about the forest, tide or mountains. Considering what their majestic homeland looks like, that's a bit of lyrical bread and butter I don't really mind.

The enjoyment of this record probably won't come down to whether or not it's pretty (of course there will always be sweet moments with OMAM), but whether or not you require serious variance in a band's evolution.

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