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Showing 1-10 of 818 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 984 reviews
on April 5, 2012
In 2010, Of Monsters and Men won Músiktilraunir, Iceland's nationwide battle-of-the-bands competition. For those that may not think of this as an impressive feat, keep in mind Iceland is the country that has given us the likes of Sigur Rós and Björk. Drawing early comparisons to Arcade Fire, Mumford and Sons, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Of Monsters and Men is an alternative folk sextet led by the vocal pair Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar Þórhallsson. After a race between labels to sign the band, Of Monsters and Men landed with Universal Music Group and now their highly anticipated debut is finally here.

Considering the recent success of debut records by Mumford and Sons as well as The Head and The Heart, fans' expectations for Of Monsters and Men are understandably high. With a wide variety of instruments including brass, accordion, glockenspiel, melodica, piano, and guitar filling any of the gaps left by the stellar vocal harmonies, Of Monsters and Men have clearly latched onto a winning formula within their genre. The two lead vocalists could both easily carry an album on their own, but it is the blending of their voices that sets Of Monsters and Men apart from any act that could be considered their competition.

There are many moments, however, when one of the two voices is given the lead. The result is as much a pleasant change of pace as it is a means for building the overall emotion of the song. For instance, on "King and Lionheart," Nanna takes the opening of each verse alone, but Ragnar's voice is gradually blended in more and more. The instrumentation of the track grows substantially behind the voices as well so by the time Nanna and Ragnar are both harmonizing every word together, the energy of the entire song has flourished.

Similar to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros' debut, "My Head is an Animal" remains far more positive and upbeat than Mumford and Sons' "Sigh No More." The album's opener, "Dirty Paws," is a song about war, but when that war is between bees, birds, and furry animals, it's hard not to smile as you listen. With a chorus of "la la las" and the occasional chant of "hey!" the band practically forces their audience to sing along.

Even the album's slowest moments have aspects that move the music forward and keep it from ever feeling tired. The track "Slow and Steady" lives up to its name in pace, but a heartbeat kick drum accompanied by a shimmering, reverb-laden electric guitar adds just enough to the harmonized vocal work to keep the five minute track from becoming labeled as filler.

The debut single from "My Head Is an Animal" is "Little Talks" and has been making its way around U.S. radio waves since August of last year. Fans of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros will quickly hear similarities to the song "Home" thanks to the call and response between the two singers, the remaining members' chants during the chorus, and most importantly, the trumpets. Of Monsters and Men are well versed in the success of their predecessors, but there is still plenty of imagination in their lyrics and blend of instruments which keeps "My Head Is an Animal" from ever feeling like a copy.

With music that builds such as many of the songs on "My Head Is an Animal" do, anticipation is an element that bands often overlook. In some cases, a band will just add to the number of instruments or increase the volume without building any anticipation of things to come. The music can still be enjoyable, but if the moves are predictable or there is nothing to surprise the listener, it's harder to make the song stand out. On "Dirty Paws" and "Love Love Love," the band uses pauses in the music just long enough to make the listener wonder what happened. It's amazing how such a simple gesture can so greatly affect a song. Following these pauses, everything feels bigger and bolder. Although this technique is more common in a live setting, to hear it on a recording makes the first listen especially exciting.

"My Head Is an Animal" is a fun record. That alone deems it worthy of a listen, but there is far more to it than mostly positive lyrics and sing-along choruses. There is also a certain musical chemistry between the members of the band that finds its way into the recording. The harmonies, not just between Nanna and Ragner but the entire band, are extraordinary. Every voice, both vocal and instrumental is given its chance to shine and when they're needed, reverb and delay effects never grow to a point of distraction. Like Mumford & Sons' "Sigh No More," "My Head Is an Animal" introduces a band experienced beyond their years. To release a record like this at any point in a musical career is exceptional, but to release it as a debut is astounding. There are still plenty of records to look forward to in 2012, but look for "My Head Is an Animal" to make many "best of" lists come December.

Track Suggestion: "Little Talks"
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on October 29, 2015
First, let me say I love OMAM. The music gets five gold stars without question. All of their songs are richly layered with great vocals, percussion, strings, etc, etc. this comes through wonderfully on their CD's. Unfortunately the vinyl pressings have not done justice to the source material, at least not the copies I've bought and listened to.

Maybe it's just my copies, maybe there was a drunken spider monkey in charge of quality control the day my disks rolled off the press but a visual survey of the colored vinyl shows dips, bubbles and streaks throughout all sides of all the disks and you can hear these during playback. Background noise is really distracting (I have a nice TT and amp setup that normally brings out the best in both vintage and new lp's) and combined with the warbling that can be heard on some of the inner songs (that I don't hear on the digital version) makes both their debut and follow up pretty much unlistenable to my ears.

Again, love the band (they are awesome live), but I feel like I paid 50 bucks for blow ups of the cd cover art and four extra large skeet targets.

Hopefully a more audiophile directed edition (sorry if that sounds snooty, not meant to be) will be released some day. I think they have the potential to sound magnificent - give Arcade Fire's Neon Bible a listen for a idea of what could be.
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on March 31, 2014
This review is of the vinyl version of the album.

Pros: Less dynamic range compression than digital release.

Cons: Poor quality vinyl. Both records are warped, and side 3 suffers from a lot of surface noise, pops and clicks. This after cleaning with a record brush and neutralizing static. I'm on my second copy of the album, the first I sent back because it was too badly warped and the sticker for side 3 was not glued on. On my newest copy sides 3 and 4 are pressed off center causing pitch variations.

Good album, just wish the vinyl pressing was of higher quality.

Edit - dropping my rating to two stars after receiving my third copy which is just as garbage of a pressing as the first two.
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on November 14, 2016
I bought the vinyl edition to further feed my new addiction to the vinyl comeback. The record is great and it's one of my absolute favorite albums. It's in great condition and plays well. Now here's where it gets weird. This is the second time I've bought this album on vinyl. (The first was from barnes and noble but it was warped so I sent it back.) That first set was solid pink. All the others I have seen online are solid pink. But my new one is marbled with pink black and white. I attached a picture. Anyone have any thoughts?
review image
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on July 24, 2016
The album is unlike anything I've ever heard before. Sure it's folk or whatever you want to call it, but these guys truly have their own defined sound that really works. The superior musicianship of each individual in the band is showcased perfectly, and these guys really know how to work together to make very heart warming music. The pink vinyl tops it off. Personally, I like listening to this album best during a rainy early fall morning while sipping on delicious coffee and looking out the window and staring at the changing leaves.
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on June 20, 2017
Music is outstanding. Pink vinyl is fun. Album lacks interesting inserts, lyrics, etc. However, what reduces it to 3 stars is that IT IS MISLABELED!!! Sides 1 and 2 have the labels for sides 3 and 4, and vice versa! I have ~500 albums and I've never seen this! Unbelievable.
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on July 29, 2013
From the unfamiliar, mysterious lyrics to the singers' Icelandic accents, and the wall of music that flows from this band, I really enjoy listening to them. I actually prefer the live videos on YouTube, for they bring out the characters of the individual band members, and also allow them to tinker around the edges on some songs, like when trumpeter Ragnhildur Gunnarsdóttir alters her playing from one event to the next. The lead singers, Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar Þórhallsson. harmonize well together, and sing their solo parts with passion and joy. I like the fact that at certain parts of most of the songs, all of the band members sing, such as on choruses of songs. I also enjoy the many "Heys!" and "Lalalas" thrown into the mix. The CD, being a studio version, is a bit more clean and straightforward. What I mean by that is that the songs are wonderful, but seem to lack the feeling and joy apparent in the live performances. This band generally plays in a tight way, all of the instruments either supporting the others in what I think of as a wall of music coming at you, or else the guiatarists or the trumpeter weave their beautiful music in and out of the drums, acoustic guitars, and keyboards -- or sometimes, an accordion. Well done, guys and gals!
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on April 5, 2012
We all know Of Monster and Men's hit title, Little Talks. This album features that stunner and a slew of hits. The album is a breath of fresh air, and any true fan of music will absolutely love every song and will find themselves humming along. Do yourself a favor, if you are a fan of Mumford & Sons, Arcade Fire, or Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, do yourself a favor, and support this magnificent indie band.
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on November 3, 2015
Of monsters & men has such a great album. They have such a variety of sound on the album and each song leaves you excited for the next! I, personally, don't really care that it comes with multiple records for one album, but I do love the fun pink colored vinyl. I would definitely recommend this album for anybody who is looking for a fun, new sound.
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on January 18, 2013
I learned about these guys from Paul Krugman of all people. I hate his taste in music, but I check out his recommendations as an attempt to broaden myself. Nanna and Ragnar's odd but delightful voices had me hooked from the beginning. Then I watched the video for 'Little Talks' and was instantly transformed into a fanboy.

I'm sure many people will dismiss this music as unserious, but these days when people say 'serious' they usually just mean 'mopy'. Fun is its own kind of serious and Of Monsters and Men do it brilliantly. I've frequently seen them compared to Mumford and Sons, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes - two bands which I can barely stand thirty seconds at a time. So please don't be guided by those comparisons

Personally Of Monsters and Men put me more in mind of Feist or Regina Spektor - artists I love. That's not any kind of intellectual analysis, just my own emotional/esthetic response. Still if you enjoy either of those artists maybe you should check these guys out. There are I think literally dozens of videos of the band in performance to be found, so it's easy to preview them.
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