Of Monsters And Men’s 2011 debut ‘My Head Is An Animal’ was a cry for attention. Those “Hey!’s” that drive the gargantuan smash of ‘Little Talks’ are just one of many instances that saw the five-piece from Iceland standing on the shore of their home, looking at the horizon and wanting to be noticed. And while ‘Beneath The Skin’ was written within the same geographical confides, it sees Of Monsters And Men finding both the pain and the beauty within.
“In despite of all my fears, I can see it all so clear,” sings Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir on the unfurling album opener of ‘Crystals’, all self-discovery and lit exposure, Of Monsters And Men go straight for the chest. From ‘Human’s’ pleas of “Let the human in” to the wrenching internal mutilation of ‘Organs’, ‘Beneath The Skin’ is an album looking inwards. “I leave in my heart because I don’t want to stay in the dark,” they sing over broken keys moments later, exposing their desire to feel.
‘Beneath The Skin’s’ lyrics may focus on reflections and the insular but the musical soundscapes that weave throughout the record soar without inhibition. The sparse rumble of ‘Thousand Eyes’ soon grows into a grand, noisy flourish, soaked in atmospheric dread and crushing realisations while the gentle ‘I Of The Storm’ devastates with nothing more than an insistent beat.
On the surface Of Monsters And Men’s second album is a lush master-class in pop sensibilities and folk storytelling but ‘Beneath The Skin’ is more than a name. Scratch below that glittering surface and you’ll discover a band that has discovered themselves. “We set the fire and we let it burn,” they admit as the curtain falls, fear, pain and glorious self-belief lighting up their own endless horizon. It’s not a cry for attention but Of Monsters And Men can’t help but demand it.