Words by Brittany Norvell

Icelandic nu-folk band, Of Monsters and Men, just released their sophomore album, Beneath the Skin. This follows their wildly successful and well received 2011 debut, My Head is an Animal, that sent them into the pop/folk mainstream, and the company of Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers.

Beneath The Skin, produced by Rich Costly (HAIM, Death Cab for Cutie), is prism of sound, light and dark, slow and fast — working as delicate balance of providing listeners with an intimate sound that also has arena appeal.

“Crystals,” booms into a thundering kick-drum beat and cymbal clash. The echoing chorus and lead singer Nanna Hilmarsdóttir’s vocals make for a beautiful, upbeat opening.

“Human” and “Hunger” are softer, darker tunes, filled with the familiar airy imagery of My Head. Ragnar Þórhallsson sings lead vocals “Empire,” one of the more uplifting up lifting tracks on Skin. The choral duet between Þórhallsson and Hilmarsdóttir is beautifully explosive.

“And from the rain

Comes a river running wild that will create

And empire for you…An empire for two”

“Organs” later follows with piano and low strings — a gauzy lamentation, preceding the drum beat “I of the Storm”, showcasing again the deliberate vibrato of Nanna’s vocals.

As a whole, Beneath the Skin is a strong second album for OMAM. Their purposeful use of minimal color on the album cover, paired with the black and white pre-release lyrical music videos indicates the emphasis of this greyscale album — from light to dark, then back again — each track having its own individual tonal quality, leaving the listener wanting more.

Of Monsters and Men
“Beneath The Skin”
© June 9th, 2015



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