I’m a complete sucker for an unexpected surprise. Home for a recent family reunion, my sister was driving me to the meetup, and she put on a record she’d gotten in the mail earlier that day.
My sister and I have a reasonable amount of overlap in our musical taste, but it’s never a guarantee that we’ll both like something.
When she put on My Head Is An Animal though, very quickly I recognized something special. As the rousing opener ‘Dirty Paws’ played, hearing the guitar few well-timed ‘HEY!’-s prompted me to exclaim: “I like this! Instantly, I love it.”
I was being somewhat glib, but as I get older and listen to more and more music, I’m getting a better ear for what I like, and recognizing it more quickly. My offhanded comment proved to be an accurate prognostication, though, as my love for the album has only grown.
On the one hand, the Icelandic sextet know how to write a radio single, ample evidence of which is heard in ‘Dirty Paws’, ‘Mountain Sound’, and the absolutely infectious ‘Little Talks‘.
This song is essentially what Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes promised us with ‘Home’, and the rest of Up From Below never delivered on. Of Monsters And Men are here to finish the task, and they do it flawlessly. From mixed-gender vocal hand-offs to big brassy anthemic hooks, the song has it all.
The other side of the coin is that the deeper cuts are just as enjoyable in their own way. Bolstering the top of the record is a personal favorite, ‘King And Lionheart’. Softer in places than the ‘bigger’ tracks, it soars just as well. The folksy-ness of it is evocative of Mumford & Sons in the best way possible.
Notable tracks also include the genuinely tender ‘Love Love Love’, which is not nearly as trite or repetitious as the title might imply. Singer Nanna Hilmarsdóttir’s breathy whisper on this song conveys such intimacy and makes it a really special moment coming into the home stretch of My Head Is An Animal.
Penultimate tracks are a growing curiosity of mine, and this record’s ‘Lakehouse‘ doesn’t disappoint.
I opened by saying I’m getting more attuned to what I like in music. I like big, epic swells that explode forth from quiet moments. I like it when horns come crashing in at the perfect moment moment and you can’t help but belt out the lyrics. I like those things, and this song has them. It doesn’t just have them though, it owns them.
My Head Is An Animal is a finely crafted tapestry of emotion and enthusiasm that never fails to capture my attention throughout all 12 tracks. I’ve greedily devoured this record, and now have to wait patiently for quite some time to see what greatness the band will come up with next.