Icelandic rock band Of Monsters and Men broke onto the international music scene in the early 2010s with a rousing chamber pop sound that echoed Arcade Fire and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. Breakthrough smash single "Little Talks" rose to the top of charts around the world, while their debut, My Head Is an Animal, became a multi-platinum success. Their introspective sophomore set, 2015's Beneath the Skin, yielded the modest hit "Crystals" and peaked in the Top Three in the U.S. In 2019, after years of recording, they returned with the reinvigorated, synth-heavy Fever Dream.
Founded in 2009, Of Monsters and Men's original lineup comprised singer/guitarists Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar Þórhallsson, guitarist Brynjar Leifsson, keyboardist Árni Guðjónsson, bass player Kristján Páll Kristjánsson, and drummer Arnar Rósenkranz Hilmarsson. The collective made a swift rise, winning their country's nationwide battle-of-the-bands competition, Musiktilraunir, just a year after they formed. By 2011, they were already being hailed as "the new Arcade Fire" in Rolling Stone magazine. Their debut album, My Head Is an Animal, was released in Iceland by Record Records in the fall of 2011. Its infectious first single, "Little Talks," saw worldwide success, and the band signed with Universal Music Group. An EP titled Into the Woods was issued soon after, and an international release of their debut followed in 2012 with a slightly different track list.
The album became an international hit, charting throughout Western Europe and Australasia, and hitting number six on the U.S. Billboard 200. Tours and major festival appearances including Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Boston Calling, and Glastonbury followed, as did television appearances such as the U.S.' Late Night with Jimmy Fallon a month after the album's release and the U.K.'s The Graham Norton Show later in the year. Around this time, Guðjónsson left the band, and in the spring of 2013 the quintet won a coveted spot on Saturday Night Live. The same year, their song "Silhouettes" appeared on the soundtrack for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and the group began work on their second album. Co-produced by Rich Costey (Interpol, Muse, Kimbra) and recorded in Iceland and Los Angeles in 2014 and early 2015, Beneath the Skin appeared in June 2015, debuting at three on the Billboard charts. The band promoted the set well into 2016 before returning to the studio in 2017 for their third album.
Of Monsters and Men returned in 2019 with the arena-sized rocker "Alligator" from their third album, Fever Dream, which was released that July. Produced with Rich Costey (Muse, Sigur Rós), the bright set absorbed synths and pop flourish, marking a departure from their previous folk-indebted sound. ~ Jason Lymangrover & Marcy Donelson