Four years after the release of their 2011 breakthrough debut, My Head Is An Animal, Icelandic alternative rockers Of Monsters And Men are close to returning with their sophomore album. At an intimate gathering at L.A.’s Henson Studios Thursday night, journalists and industry figures were treated to a preview, hearing seven songs that drew applause after every track.
Nominated for best rock album at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards, My Head Is An Animal sold 2.1 million copies, hit No. 6 on the Billboard Top 200 and spawned four hit singles on the Alternative Charts — the chart-topping “Little Talks,” “Dirty Paws, “Mountain Sound” and “King And Lionheart.” Their upcoming follow-up is one of 2015’s most anticipated rock releases and the listening session reflected that.
After a brief intro announcing that the first single from the new album will hit in March (the still-to-be-named full album to follow later in the year), the Rich Costey-produced music found the band’s sound growing tremendously in all directions. Described by one listener as “next level,” the songs ranged from a great pop/rocker to a lush ballad with strings and gorgeous vocals by Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdottir, which could easily be imagined playing over the the closing credits of a Hollywood blockbuster. There was also a U2-esque rocker featuring vocals by Ragnar Porhallsoon with a huge climax perfectly suited for music festivals around the globe.
After the songs were played in the informal setting, akin to a super-posh living room, some of the band members mingled with guests and sat in a corner drinking beers and exchanging dog pictures with Billboard. Porhallsson and Arnar Rosenkranz Hilmarsson echoed our enthusiasm. “We can’t wait to play these songs live,” they shared together. Fans should be just as excited to hear these new songs.