Blimey, Iceland have been carving out a niche for themselves, haven’t they? For a country roughly the size of Scotland, where the population of just over 320,000 compete for space with volcanoes and glaciers, they seem to consistently produce a fantastic array of music. Following the formidable footsteps of Björk and Sigur Rós are Of Monsters and Men, a group who burst into the UK’s music scene with Little Talks earlier this year.
Their second single, Mountain Sound, follows the same template that brought the group their initial success. The melody is thrust into life with a jaunty piano motif laid on top of a delightfully sprightly drum sequence. From the off then, the song comes across as an uplifting, foot-tapping affair - a welcome departure from the traditional dreariness of the folk music genre.
Raggi, usually the backing vocalist, has a far more prominent role in this track. With smooth mellow tones akin to Marcus Mumford, he propels the verses with a certain whimsical charm only the Scandinavians can really deliver. His part is punctuated with a beat hammered out on a snare while an acoustic guitar is gently strummed underneath that. In a minor key, the verse threatens to drag the mood of the song down - fortunately, it does not.
The chorus is simple, but incredibly catchy - female vocalist Nanna has only to sing nine words as part of it, and although there is very little to this part of the track it is remarkably good at getting lodged in one’s head. It has definitely been written with potential radio play in mind - not necessarily a bad thing, but it can make for a song which is exactly half catchy and half repetitive.
Of Monsters and Men found their name with Little Talks, a song so similar to this one it might even be from the same take. They appear to know what they’re doing by following this template, and while it may propel them to further chart success and Radio 1 promotion, the approach strikes as a tad contrived. It is perhaps a little depressing to think that even the unique acts in the industry need to aim for a mainstream sound to sell music, but this group are so enjoyable and buoyant that we’ll let it fly.
Mountain Sound by Of Monsters and Men is out on November 5 via Universal.