Anything but “Little Talks” for Iceland’s Of Monsters and Men

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By Elana Katz

The six-piece indie-pop band Of Monsters and Men has recently gained popularity in the United States as a result of the constant radio play of their catchy single, “Little Talks.”

The band hails from Reykjavík, Iceland, where they won Músíktilraunir, an annual battle of the bands competition, in 2010.

Shortly after winning, the band signed with Record Records in February 2011 and released their debut album in Iceland with “Little Talks,” which soon topped the charts in the States.

Due to their growing success and fan base in the U.S., the band signed to Universal for a worldwide release of their debut album, which was well received by critics.

Of Monsters and Men released My Head is an Animal in the U.S. a week ago and began their North American tour in March at the coveted South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival in Austin, Texas.

The band’s North American tour brought them to Albany on Tuesday, April 11, where they played at Jillian’s Night Club and Bar.

Prior to the start of the show, the stage was littered with a plethora of instruments including acoustic guitars, a drum kit, a bass guitar, a keyboard, a trumpet, an accordion, and a tambourine ready to take the audience on a musical journey.

Of Monsters and Men is known for packing their music with a wide variety of instruments in an Arcade Fire-esque way, producing a strong and inventive sound.

Their unique take on indie-folk pop is then paired with interesting lyrics that tell tales, particularly in songs like “Your Bones” and “King and Lionheart,” a testament to their Icelandic roots.

Of Monsters and Men’s performance was full of clapping, foot stomping and fist throwing, which aptly fits their folkie style.

Co-singer and guitarist Nanna Hilmarsdóttir continuously encouraged the audience to chime in with “lalas” and shout-resounding “heys,” making the concert a group effort.

The band played several songs from their recent album, such as the upbeat “Mountain Sound,” “From Finner,” and “Love, Love, Love.”

Hilmarsdóttir’s co-singer and guitarist Ragnar “Raggi” Þórhallsson shares their songs so beautifully, demonstrating the partnership of their music.

Their voices blend seamlessly in a complimentary fashion that is even stronger live than on the tracks. Both of the influential leads make their music fluidly come alive.

Of Monsters and Men’s newest addition to the band is an equally talented trumpeter. Her work on the trumpet is the perfect touch, sending songs over the edge with arena-like finish that leaves the audience wanting more.

To top it all off, Of Monsters and Men laced their instruments and microphones in Christmas lights that created a very authentic ambiance throughout the show, a facet that is very unique to their set.

Overall, the performance was a pleasure to be at. Of Monsters and Men have such a distinct charm to the music that they produce, making their approach so refreshing.

Their anathematic-soulful-folk style is an undeniable strength and makes their music work. Of Monsters and Men have truly found their niche, and they intend to stick with it.

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