A new sound
After making a name for themselves with acoustic-driven hits like “Little Talks” and “Mountain Sound,” the Icelandic band Of Monsters and Men went in a new direction for their latest album entitled Fever Dream. Lead Singer Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir said she was bored with her writing process and wanted a change, which was accomplished with less acoustic guitar and more electronics and production. After the success Of Monsters and Men has had, it isn’t easy to craft a new sound, but the confidently explores what else they can sound like on the new album.
Fever Dream is an interesting title for the album: fever dreams tend to be intense, confusing and the result of your body’s attempt to stave off illness. The album is more serene than its title would suggest, but the electronic focus creates an ephemeral feeling like a dream that feels both near and far. “Alligator” is the name of the album’s first single and its first track. The song relies heavily on percussion to press forward. “And now I lose control/ I’m fever dreaming” sings Hilmarsdóttir. Like how Hilmarsdóttir wanted to change her approach to writing the album, fans of the band should let go of their expectations while listening to the album.
“Ahay” is more representative of the albums sound than “Alligator.” It has the feel of an electronic pop ballad with a darker tone. The lyrical content tends to focus on change, a matter than was surely on the band’s mind while writing. “You think you know me/ but do you really?” sings Ragnar Þórhallsson, seemingly challenging the listener’s expectations.
Much of the album continues in this vein with heavy drum beats and electronic sounds supporting the piano and vocals. “Wild Roses” is one of their strongest songs on the album. Hilmarsdóttir’s silvery vocals fully featured as she sings about “wild roses on a bed of leaves in the month of May.” The confusion of a fever dream is amplified by Hilmarsdóttir’s lyrics “You keep me still when all I feel is an aimless direction,” and the song’s pulsating drum beat.
“Waiting for the Snow” is one of the most contemplative songs. The nature of their own songwriting must have been on the mind a lot while working on the album. Hilmarsdóttir sings “I used to make mountains/ but then they grew bigger than me” on “Waiting for the Snow.” The song is more pared-down than others, using lots of vocals and foregoing the heavy drum beat.
The songs tend to follow a similar structure where they start out with a drum beat and slowly build in intensity, adding sounds and instrument. Hilmarsdóttir’s voice complements the fluid sound of the album nicely and features prominently on most songs. Though a stark departure from their earlier work, Fever Dream allows the band to explore other sounds and make good use of Hilmarsdóttir’s excellent voice.