Album Review: Of Monsters & Men - My Head Is An Animal

1 May 2012 | 2:28 pm | Sam Hobson

My Head Is An Animal is an album that seems fixated with memory, and nostalgia, an attempted incantation of a poetically recalled past.

There's something about the constant vocal unison on Of Monsters & Men's dream-pop debut that's positively exhausting. Every bit of force on this album, sonically, every bit of momentum and brusqueness is quickly emasculated by a dry sweetness. Which isn't to say the album is itself a mild-sounding thing: in fact, despite the vocals, there's not a hint of sleepiness to it. It just feels like a fight without firmly planted feet.

My Head Is An Animal is an album that seems fixated with memory, and nostalgia, an attempted incantation of a poetically recalled past. But, with a mean irony, none of this evokes anything close to being universally affecting, and instead plays as undercooked. There's a penchant for chanted choruses and brass work, but this only dilutes or depersonalises the band's sound. The cadence of their male singer's voice is curly, and goes straight to clasp at your heart, but his strength within the band isn't flexed enough.

The production is spacey, and untethered; it feels unfocussed, and synaesthetically reads more like a dutifully speckled mist than proper atmospherics. Their drum sound is recorded naturally, with all the fuzz and fur and dust you can hear being beat up, but, after heralding the beginning of each track, that line is dropped way back in the mix just as each song gets going.

There's hints that this album should hit with a sound that listeners can grab hold of and hold up to their ears, and know even with their eyes closed that it's theirs. It's a strong enough debut, but not one that really holds its head above the crowd.

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