Indie-rock band, Of Monsters and Men, was met with unforeseen success with their 2012 debut album, My Head Is An Animal, which spawned the hit single, “Little Talks.” Now, after expanding to a worldwide audience, the Icelandic act is back with their second LP, Beneath the Skin, and it couldn’t be more pleasing.
With their second release, Of Monsters and Men take the next evolutionary step as a band. On the record, the quintet gets a little more introspective, both in its lyrical and musical content. The band moves away from the old Icelandic fables it relied on in the past and tends to sing from more personal perspectives. As a result, one may wonder if the band has lost their charm. However, it is quite the contrary. They continue to write in a very unique way, one that is true to the Of Monsters and Men sound. The listener gets to feel a stronger connection with the band as they share their own feelings through their environmentally influenced lyrics. Songs like “Crystals” and many others like “Black Water,” “Empire,” and “Human” exemplify this creative sense of story telling that brings the album to life.
Musically, the record is a bit less upbeat than its predecessor, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The band is more fine-tuned than ever. The guitars continually draw me in with the subtle ambience they bring to each track, something that is signature to the band. And as a drummer, I couldn’t help but notice my hands involuntarily tapping to the creative beats in “Slow Life.”
However, the vocals are truly where the album shines the brightest. I will admit I have a particular affinity for male/female vocalist combos, but on Beneath The Skin, this band has created some of the most beautiful harmonies I have ever heard. The songs already mentioned, along with “Wolves Without Teeth,” are perfect examples of the impressive vocal arrangements that are featured on the album.
Beneath The Skin is a stand out record among others of its genre. With its unmatched style and its refined qualities, Of Monsters and Men prove they are no one-LP wonder. All in all, the album is a must listen for every Indie-rock enthusiast.