Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Of Monsters and Men at the Beacon Theatre

Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir
Of Monsters and Men began in 2009 in Keflavík, Iceland, when Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir sought to add to her solo project, Songbird. Of Monsters and Men entered 2010's Músíktilraunir, an annual music competition held in Iceland, as a quartet with members Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), Brynjar Leifsson (electric guitar), Ragnar "Raggi "Þórhallsson (backing vocals, melodica, glockenspiel), and Arnar Rósenkranz Hilmarsson (backing vocals, melodica, glockenspiel, tambourine). The quartet won the Músíktilraunir, then added two more members, Árni Guðjónsson (accordion/keys, backing vocals) and Kristján Páll Kristjánsson (bass, backing vocals). Guðjónsson later left the band to go back to school. Of Monsters and Men's second album, Beneath the Skin, was released on June 9, 2015. The English-language indie folk/pop band is best known for its 2011 international hit, "Little Talks."

Of Monsters and Men headlined two consecutive nights at the Beacon Theatre, bringing along four additional musicians to fill out the sound. Led primarily by the female/male vocal tag team of Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Þórhallsson, the band combined traditional folk and wall-of-sound technology for a booming take on European hinterland music. Of Monsters and Men performed most of their two albums, experimenting with a range from saccharine sweet to noisy distortion. The common denominator, however, was that lilting melodies and soft vocals played on acoustic instruments could rock thunderously when nine musicians played together. At its best, the band sounded similar to Fleetwood Mac; unfortunately, however, the great number of slow songs was lulling, despite its larger-than-life sound. Nevertheless, layered horn and percussion arrangements gained a moderate level of finesse on some of these songs. The band's performance was well executed but was less than exciting for much of the concert.

Visit Of Monsters and Men at www.ofmonstersandmen.com.