The Sunday Section: Music - Of Monsters and Men

On recommendation, I started listening – and I mean, properly listening – to Mumford and Sons. I’d pick a playlist on Youtube and just let it play. I like their music well enough. The playlist then carried on with The Lumineers – a band I hadn’t heard of – and I liked them well enough too.

The playlist moved on to play songs from another band I’d never heard of – Of Monsters and Men. And I was hooked!

(L to R) Brynjar Leifsson, Arnar Rósenkranz, Kristján Páll Kristjánsson, Ragnar Þórhallsson and Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdóttir

The band, formed in 2010, is from Reykjavik, Iceland, and is made up of five members. The lead singer/guitarist, Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdóttir, was the one responsible for the formation of the band when she decided to move on from her solo career. Her co-singer-guitarist is Ragnar ‘Raggi’ Þórhallsson. Then there’s guitarist Brynjar Leifsson; bassist Kristján Páll Kristjánsson; and drummer Arnar Rósenkranz.

Their debut album, released in 2011, has the… interesting title of ‘My Head Is An Animal’, which yielded the internationally successful single, ‘Little Talks’.

The second album, ‘Beneath The Skin’, was released in 2015. Both albums were well-received by critics and music lovers alike.

I find this band not only beautiful to listen to, but their videos, for me, are stunning. Before OMAM, I’d never come across ‘official lyric videos’ by any musician. But all their videos include the lyrics; the words on the bottom of the screen don’t intrude on the visuals. Their ‘proper’ videos are a visual treat, with bizarre fairy tale-like settings. Having said that, I adore their official lyric videos, which are all in black and white; there’s something almost hypnotic about them.

Not only is their sound different enough, what really stands out for me are the lyrics. They sing about love, loss and the usual stuff, but they convey it differently with their thought-provoking choice of words. Like this, from ‘Your Bones’ (‘My Head is an Animal’):
           ‘In the spring we made a boat
            Out of feathers, out of bones
            We set fire to our homes,
            Walking barefoot in the snow

Wolves Without Teeth’ (‘Beneath the Skin’):
            ‘Open my chest and colour my spine
            I’m giving you all
            I’m giving you all
            Swallow my breath
            And take what is mine

            I’m giving you all
            I’m giving you all
            I’ll be the blood
            If you’ll be the bones
            I’m giving you all
            I’m giving you all
            So lift up my body
            And lose all control
            I’m giving you all
            I’m giving you all

Winter Sound’ (‘Beneath the Skin’):
            ‘Stop, you’re cold against the skin
            You take me in your arms when walls are closing in
            And I run, I run, I run, awakening my heart
            But you overwhelm my lungs and it’s tearing me apart
            You and I will be shaken!
            By the winter sound
            But my voice is suffocating
            In the winter sound.

I enjoy all their songs, but I’ve picked my particular favourites for the videos. Not surprisingly, the first one features horses; I just love the joyfulness of the running horses that seem to be running for the hell of it.