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left to right: Brynjar, Arnar, Nanna, Raggi, Kristján
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Of Monsters and Men is an Icelandic (but English-language) folk-pop band, formed in 2010 after Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir decided to add to her solo project Songbird, changing name after co-vocalist/guitarist Ragnar Þórhallsson came up with it. Their big break started with a winning the annual music competition Músíktilraunir in 2010 after just a week of working together, and subsequently they went viral after Seattle radio station KEXP recorded them performing in Raggi's living room.

Definitely not to be confused with Of Mice and Men.

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Members

  • Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir - vocals, guitar
  • Ragnar "Raggi" Þórhallsson - vocals, guitar
  • Brynjar Leifsson - guitar
  • Arnar Rósenkranz Hilmarsson - drums
  • Kristján Páll Kristjánsson - bass

Discography

  • My Head Is an Animal (2011 in Iceland, 2012 elsewhere)
  • Beneath the Skin (2015)
  • Fever Dream (2019)
Other releases:
  • Into the Woods (EP, 2011)
  • Live from Vatnagarðar (Live album, 2013)


Of Monsters and Tropes

  • Album Title Drop: One for each of their albums so far:
    • "Six Weeks":
      She follows me into the woods
      Takes me home...
    • "Dirty Paws":
      Jumping up and down the floor
      My head is an animal...
    • "Human":
      Plants awoke and they slowly grow
      Beneath the skin...
    • "Alligator":
      Wake me up
      I'm fever dreaming...
  • Audience Participation Song: "Little Talks", "From Finner", "Dirty Paws", "Slow Life", "Black Water". They sure like to shout "hey" or "whoa" a lot, don't they?
  • "Awesome McCool" Name: Basically why the whole band stuck to Of Monsters and Men.
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  • Boléro Effect: "Slow and Steady", "From Finner", "Your Bones", and more traditional examples in "Yellow Light" and "Thousand Eyes". All of these songs have very repetitive endings that grow more and more intense over time.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: The music video for "King and Lionheart" ends with the two siblings still separated, and the elder sister running from her captors.
  • Call-and-Response Song: Since the band has two lead singers there are quite a number of these, such as "Little Talks".
  • Call-Back: "Stuck In Gravity" includes a nod to the band's first album in its chorus.
    Head is still an animal...
  • Concept Video: Most of their music videos thus far have been highly experimental, and frequently have little to do with the song lyrics.
    • "Little Talks" and "King and Lionheart" are both done in a Nordic art style, blend CGI and live action, and tell stories set in fantastic lands.
    • "Crystals" is a somewhat bizarre video featuring the band members as workers in a crystalline forge, creating an Artificial Human.
    • "Empire" is a black-and-white homage to Harold and Maude.
  • Contemptible Cover: The original cover for My Head Is an Animal featured several men in their underwear. This was changed to a much tamer photo of a woman walking on the beach for the international release.
  • Creator Thumbprint: Stormy seas and wild animals are their most common motifs.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The music videos for "Little Talks", "King and Lionheart", and "Empire".
  • Driven to Suicide: Hinted at in "Little Talks".
    Just let me go, we'll meet again soon...
  • Downer Ending: "Yellow Light" and the hidden track "Sinking Man" seem to be about a person meeting their cold, watery demise.
  • Hidden Track: "Sinking Man" follows "Yellow Light" after a few minutes of silence on the original version of My Head Is an Animal.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: The two lead characters in the music video for "Empire".
  • Interspecies Romance: Between a minotaur and a leviathan in the video for "Love, Love, Love". Based on the lyrics, it's likely one sided.
  • Lady and Knight: The narrator of "King and Lionheart" identifies the dynamic between the two main characters as Lord and Knight, probably in a metaphorical sense.
  • Land, Sea, Sky: The creatures that menace the protagonists of the "Little Talks" video—first a giant two-headed bird (Sky), next a huge bison (Land) and finally a tentacled sea monster (Sea).
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Very common:
    • “Little Talks” is about losing a significant other and dealing with the grief caused by it, yet you probably wouldn’t realize it because of how lively it is.
    • “Mountain Sound” seems to be about running away from the problems you’ve caused, but the instrumentation remains extremely cheerful throughout the entire song.
  • Lyric Video: In addition to their concept videos, the band has released lyric videos for each of their songs (excluding remixes).
  • Mickey Mousing: In the "Little Talks" video, every single "Hey!" is matched up to a significant action in the battle taking place.
  • Non-Appearing Title: "Sloom", "Six Weeks", "Sinking Man", "Alligator", "Vulture, Vulture", "Soothsayer". Partial cases with "From Finner", "Lakehouse", "I of the Storm", "Organs".
  • Precision F-Strike: While the band's songs are usually mellow lyric-wise, "Under A Dome" stands out for containing a couple prominent "fuck"s. For that one song alone, the album it's in (Fever Dream) is their first to come in both a normal and a censored version.
  • Pun-Based Title: "I of the Storm".
  • The Smurfette Principle: An all-male band fronted by a woman.
  • Schizo Tech: In the music video for "King and Lionheart", the airships and war machines don't seem too out of place in the fantasy setting, but the stone temple that launches into the air like a spacecraft comes as a surprise.
  • Splash of Color: In the music video for "Little Talks" everything is in black-and-white - except for the colorful girl and, as the ending reveals, the creatures from her country.
  • Sugar Apocalypse: "Dirty Paws" tells a story of birds and bees going to war. It becomes surprisingly dark, while maintaining a cheery melody throughout.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: "Little Talks" is about a young woman having a conversation with her dead husband.
  • Vocal Tag Team: Nanna and Raggi tend to trade lead vocals back and forth every other song, and sometimes during the same song.

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