Release Date: Jul 26, 2019
Record label: Island
Four years after the release of their hardened sophomore effort, Beneath the Skin, Iceland's Of Monsters and Men returned with Fever Dream, a reinvigorated change of pace that gives the band a shimmering synth pop makeover. Stepping away from the folksy anthems that broke them across the globe, the quintet absorbed bright synths, programmed drums, and beat loops, resulting in a surprisingly satisfying hybrid. Moving past any potential disappointment brought on by the fact that there's no "Little Talks" to be found on Fever Dream, it still takes a minute to digest this drastic sonic shift.
"The driving force for this album was curiosity", vocalist Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdóttir explains. "We wanted to explore everybody's palettes and just try everything". Though they've never been a band to stick to just one sound - they may be associated with arena-folk but have always explored various genres across album tracks - working on Fever Dream came with an entirely new approach to their instruments and song-writing.
'Fever Dream' is perfectly listenable, but is missing the magic spark that made the Icelandic band a smash success when they first emerged Of Monsters and Men‘s brass-bop ‘Little Talks’ was everywhere in 2011. You couldn’t turn on the radio and not hear it - it was used on tons of adverts and even had a version recorded in Simlish for the soundtrack of The Sims. It sold millions of copies and went Platinum around the world, their debut album ‘My Head Is an Animal’ duly doing the same.
Previously, Of Monsters and Men have proven themselves masters of the dark arts: at least of echoing their native Iceland's volcanic landscape in song form via dual vocal powerhouses of Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdottír and Ragnar Þórhallsson. 'Alligator', the first track revealed from and opener of 'Fever Dream' followed this pattern perfectly. Unfortunately, the rest of the group's third album doesn't.
Of Monsters and Men's third album 'Fever Dream' lives up to its name, as it's a delirious and ambiguous collection of songs that sound great, but don't reveal their true meaning on a first listen. 'Alligator' kicks things off, and kick off it does. This is possibly the most aggressive the Icelandic band has sounded. There is a biting sound to the guitars that feels abrasive, but poppy.