We get a lot of records sent to us here at The A.V. Club. Fortunately, we end up liking some of them. In Playlisted, we share our latest recommendations.
Album: My Head Is An Animal by Of Monsters And Men (out now on Universal)
Press play if you like: Arcade Fire, The Delgados, The Decemberists, panoramic folk-pop
Some background: Originally founded as a duo by songwriters Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar Þórhallsson, Iceland’s Of Monsters And Men quickly expanded to a sextet as its homeland popularity grew. A polished folk-pop gem, the group’s debut, My Name Is An Animal, layers rustic folk songs with horns, strings, accordion, and dueling male-female vocals, fueling the soaring, shout-along choruses. The band channels an Arcade Fire influence most prominently on “Six Weeks”—which lifts the charging drum beat from “Wake Up”—and “Mountain Sound” (one of two new tracks for the recent U.S. release of Animal) which follows a winding synth line through a rousing chorus. The quiet slow-burn of “Love Love Love” glides with Hilmarsdóttir’s lilting vocals, while Þórhallsson leads the uplifting “Your Bones." But the male-female vocals also play well off each other. On the bouncy strummer “Sloom,” the two voices weave together to produce honeyed harmonies that buoy the arrangement.
Try this: The anthemic single “Little Talks” initially spurred interest in the band in the U.S., and it gets a beefier mix on the album, adding more oomph via horns, organ, and accordion. Hilmarsdóttir and Þórhallsson exchange lines in a tete-a-tete that builds to an epic chorus.