THURSDAY, JANUARY 28, 2016 |
Posted by: Don Saas
When Icelandic alternative folk-rockers Of Monsters and Men released their second studio record, Beneath the Skin, last year, they led off the hype cycle with the single, "Crystals." It's a great tune, but it was also one that took time to grow on me. I remember being slightly underwhelmed the first time I heard it, but like any great tune, it just needed a little time to worm its way into my consciousness. Beneath the Skin was that sort of record. It was a band expanding the scope of their sound in a way that might seem foreign to folks who were used to the very specific sonic palette of My Head Is An Animal. If you haven't returned to Beneath the Skin in a while, we recommend you do so. It's worth a revisit, and the band has given fans the perfect opportunity to do so by dropping the music video for "Wolves Without Teeth."
If Beneath the Skin was a grower, "Wolves Without Teeth" was the standout track that you knew you loved right off the bat. Nearly a year later, I still think it's probably the best track on the album. It has some of the best vocal work Ragnar and Nanna have ever done. The guitar work is fiery and electric, and it's the ideal combination of the band's fantastical storytelling with a well of deep emotional intimacy. If I'd been running the PR/management/whoever makes this particular call, I'd have led off with "Wolves Without Teeth" as the first single from the last record. The band could have had another "Little Talks" or (at least) another "Mountain Sounds" on their hand.
I keep talking about how the record is a grower because the music video for the track is the same way. At first, it throws so much seemingly disjointed narrative info at you that you might not even realize what's technically going on til you're nearly halfway through the video and realize it's a story of a dance competition. But the video delivers a delicious postmodern spin about desperation and dedication even in the smallest of venues, and while I still don't quite know what the connection is between this video and the track itself, the video evolves into a mesmerizing self-contained narrative.
Of Monsters and Men are hitting the festival circuit hard this year with sets at Coachella and Governors Ball among others. If you missed them in their sprawling tour last year and this video reminded you that you need a little Icelandic uplift in your life, be sure to head out to one of those festivals. As someone who caught the band at Bonnaroo in 2013, I promise you won't regret it.