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. The lyrics to ‘Alligator’ sounds equally narked - “Feral feeling, swaying sound” is delivered with enough venom and malice to make you wonder is this is the same band who released ‘Beneath The Skin’ in 2015.
As ‘Alligator’ ends and ‘Ahay’ starts it becomes apparent it is, but this isn’t the safe follow up we were expecting. This is down not only to how the albums sounds, and feels, but how it was written. In the past frontwoman Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir would pick up her guitar and, pretty much, know how it was going to pan out after a few notes or chords. This was fine then, but it was time for a change.
The album was also written in individual isolation, rather than as a collective endeavour, using a laptop at home. These creative changes not only changed the dynamic of the band for the better, but also the sound. ‘Fever Dream’ is the sound of a band that have had enough doing the same old thing again and again and want to try something different, and having the strength and conviction to follow it through and not really caring if it’s a success or a failure.
Luckily the album is the group's strongest and most enjoyable album to date. The songs also have an emotional content to them that is hard to ignore, ‘Under a Dome’ is full of pathos and yearning for example, but those massive poppy hooks are still there. There are moments however when things quite work as well as on their previous albums, but these are the moments that are the most interesting and exciting. ‘Sleepwalker’ never really gets going but there is lucidity to it that gets its message across.
Time will tell if Of Monsters & Men continue this creative process in the future but one this is certain, they aren’t happy to sit back and phone it in. And that should be applauded, even if the music doesn’t quite hit the lofty highs of their previous albums.
Words: Nick Roseblade
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