Of Monsters and Men are not new to the Santa Barbara area, but for the first time, the band brought a unique sound, blending their classic indie-folk with pop to Thursday’s concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl. When the band came together following their last world tour, they had decided that their last album was a true inward reflection and they were now ready for a fun, summer album. “Fever Dream,” the latest album by the group, is highlighted by the hit single ‘’Alligator’’ which plays much like a pop anthem but lyrically sounds similar past hits such as “Little Talks” or “Dirty Paws.” The album as a whole plays much like previous albums such as “Beneath The Skin,” but provides room for the band to broaden their sound. Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir’s vocals receive more time than past records, and Hilmarsdóttir provides a new route for the group with her increased contributions to their performances. Of course, the album does not forget the beloved co-vocalist Ragnar Þórhallsson but instead shares the power, proving that each individual band member can bring a distinct performance to each song.
Seeing Of Monsters and Men live is an incredibly unique experience because the band’s performance emphasizes the combined effort that makes up much of their albums, but also highlights each member’s individual talent in every song. Their set at the Santa Barbara Bowl opened with a loud and engaging beat from drummer Arnar Rósenkranz Hilmarsson and strong chords from lead guitarist Brynjar Leifsson. Together, the two rhythmically set the stage for an upbeat night full of anthems, ballads, and everything in between. A red-suited Hilmarsdóttir belted the words to “Alligator” and what followed was pure magic. Of Monsters and Men provided an eclectic setlist which allowed for old and new listeners to experience a wide variety of songs.
The band’s unique sound allowed for folky acoustics to be used in unison with the loud beat of rock drums or the still sound of a piano. The group’s wide appeal was extremely apparent at the Bowl, when audience members ranging from teenagers to senior citizens rose to their feet to sing the lyrics to “Little Talks.” In addition, the band actively reached out to fans at the Bowl to get them involved with beats in performances of “Dirty Paws” and “Wars”. In its entirety, a concert with Of Monsters and Men provides its audience with ample opportunity to dance, sing, and marvel at the band’s technical expertise. If one is not jumping up and down to a beat, they are simply mesmerized by the band’s work as the members transition from instrument to instrument mid-song.
Avid fans of the indie-folk genre should look to Of Monsters and Men as a perfect example of a band that has been able to stretch outside of their comfort zone in order to continue providing new material for their fans. Songs like “Wars” and “Sleepwalker” also provide unique sonic blends that experiment with new technology like Beat Makers, proving that the Icelandic band is here to stay with their third album.