|Album Review: Of Monsters and Men - Fever Dream|
Of Monsters and Men
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When a band reaches the point of embarking upon their third record, there comes the question: "What now?" While the first two records are often amalgamated into one long introduction, the third presents a fork in the road. Take one path and wildly experiment beyond the limits of your original sound, or stick to the tried-and-true path- the one that got you here in the first place. Iceland's Of Monsters and Men chose to make their own path, by weaving their way through both in their third full-length release, Fever Dream.
"The driving force for this album was curiosity," lead singer Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir shares. "Curiosity to do things in a new way – not using a guitar to write, finding something else that excites me." The album does explore some new soundscapes, introducing electronic elements where there used to be orchestral anthems; and delving deeper into the pop, leaving some of their folk behind. But it seems that a few steps down this strange and uncharted territory, the band decidedly leaned over and placed one firm foot back on their starting path. Sharing their musings on nature through climactic drums and vivid songwriting once again, the band's third release feels like a gentle push-and-pull between jumping into the unknown and holding tight to the familiar.
Despite its sometimes confused identity, Fever Dream still manages to serve as a reminder of what made Of Monsters and Men so successful in the first place. Their debut track, "Alligator" is a high-energy, stadium anthem awash with pulsing percussions, electric guitar notes and a strong, forceful vocal performance from Nanna. On "Wild Roses", the band's signature emotive hooks burst through the track, with a searing chorus that roars over wistful piano keys and unimposing strings.
During their experimentation, the band sought influence from different genres, different artists, even different eras. "I think we're always trying to evolve," Ragnar (vocalist and guitarist) explains to EARMILK. "If I feel stuck and my writing doesn't seem interesting to me it's definitely not going to be interesting for anyone else. So on this album we changed everything up. The process was totally different and that led us to some interesting discoveries." He adds, "I think you can definitely hear some Phil Collins in there. Some Whitney Houston. Some 90's pop/rock influences and even some early '00 boyband vibes." The farthest-reaching track would be "Under the Dome". Lusciously dark and playful all the same time, it dabbles in the use of 80s-inspired synths and distorted vocals, creating a uniquely modern sound that is still all their own.
While their debut single "Little Talks" propelled the band into acclaimed fame, their more vulnerable, emotionally-flooring tracks will always be the anchor that keeps them grounded. "Waiting For The Snow" drops all the dramatic instrumentation and strips down to a melodious piano ballad, showcasing Nanna's vocal prowess and lyrical maturity. "I used to make mountains | But then they grew bigger than me", she tenderly croons, perhaps commenting on the band's fast-paced success, and the cross-roads they found themselves facing when writing this third record.
Fever Dream may not be revolutionary, nor a completely safe choice, but it does show progress. A willingness to step outside the lines that they formed with their debut, and explore the vast world they've painted so beautifully with their stadium anthems. You can catch Of Monsters and Men on their headlining North American tour this fall by purchasing tickets here.