July 22, 2019 Of Monsters and Men – FEVER DREAM (Album Review)
The Icelandic outfit Of Monsters and Men are set to return with their new album FEVER DREAM on Friday, July 26th, 2019 through Republic Records.
Looking back, they first catapulted to the tip of the berg in 2011 via the release of their debut album, which reached the No. 1 position on the Rock and Alternative charts of Australia, Iceland, Ireland, and the United States and peaked at No. 6 on the U.S. Billboard 200 album chart and No. 3 on the U.K. Instantly, Of Monsters and Men’s breakthrough single “Little Talks” became a successful radio staple, quickly defining their music, which effortlessly soared the airwaves and climbed to the pantheon of the Alternative/Indie Rock world.
The follow-up to 2011’s My Head Is an Animal came four years after – the equally alluring Beneath the Skin in 2015. Now, after another four years, Of Monsters and Men—Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir (lead vocals, guitars, piano), Ragnar Þórhallsson (lead vocals, guitars, melodica, glockenspiel), Brynjar Leifsson (lead guitars, melodica, tambourine, backing vocals), Kristján Páll Kristjánsson (bass, egg shaker, backing vocals), and Arnar Rósenkranz Hilmarsson (drums, percussion, melodica, glockenspiel, accordion, keyboard, piano, acoustic guitar, backing vocals)—are set to unleash their third oeuvre.
Complete with eleven new tracks, FEVER DREAM initially sounds like a departure from the catchy and melodic Pastoral Folk/Pop of its predecessors, as it opens with the distorted Post-Punk machine gun beauty of the lead single “Alligator.” It is then followed by a slew of R&B-flavored Sophistipop ballads—the pulsating “Ahay,” the percussive “Róróró,” and the melodramatic lullaby of the piano-led “Waiting for the Snow.”
A subtle change of style and mood comes next with “Vulture, Vulture”—an excursion to Dance/Trip-Hop territories, reverberating echoes of Everything But the Girl (“Missing”) when the duo Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt were in Dance Pop realms. Following in the same undulating and poppy, night-driving sensibilities is the unassuming “Wild Roses,” which begins with somber stanzas and then builds up into crashing and soaring choruses.
Moving on, Þórhallsson takes the lead in the heartrending, bittersweet sway of “Stuck in Gravity” and then duets with Hilmarsdóttir in “Sleepwalker,” which might remind the initiated of some of the inspired cover ballads of Annie Lennox (“No More ‘I Love You’s’”). A further swim into dim-lit contemporary Pop plays next in the form of “Wars,” whose bouncy basslines and glassy synth melodies makes the track a standout. The penultimate track, “Under the Dome” then takes the listener to another apt mood of FEVER DREAM—shimmering Dreampop sonic styling and lyrical sentimentality. Finally, Of Monsters and Men finishes their latest work with the synth-oriented and electrifying “Soothsayer.”
For a moment, the acclimatized listener might lose themselves in the unexpected change of musicality of FEVER DREAM. The band has definitely made a sharp sonic turn. However, this does not mean that Of Monsters and Men have lost their plot. They have simply expanded their stylistic palette to enable them to express different facets of their music and to explore other genres of musical expression. At the end of the last note, Of Monsters and Men still carry their roots on their sleeves. That is why Cryptic Rock gives FEVER DREAM 4 out of 5 stars.