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In 2010, Of Monsters and Men won an annual band competition in Iceland. This group of six took a steep flight to international fame, playing a festival and getting airtime on a Seattle radio station. They spent the next year recording their debut album, My Head Is an Animal.

With catchy melodies, driving rhythm, and crescendos reminiscent of Arcade Fire and Mumford & Sons, the band has gained American popularity. Most of the songs use the play of voices, including female lead Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir, male singer and guitarist Ragnar þórhallsson, and the entire band breaking out into repetitive chants.

What really stand out are the imaginative lyrics. Each song is a short narrative about animal creatures in a mythical and chaotic landscape. In their song “King and Lionheart,” you can imagine being in Narnia: “But you’re a king and I’m a lionheart./And in the sea that’s painted black/Creatures lurk below the deck/But you're the king and I’m a lionheart.”

The energy and imagination on this album convinced me to keep it on repeat for hours. (Universal Republic)

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