Sunday, January 27, 2013

Of Monsters & Men; My Head is an Animal.

When I filled out my Summation of 2012 thing a few weeks ago, when it came to my favorite albums of the year I mentioned Flo and Marina and then was like, "Uh, I guess that's it? That's weird," and it did feel weird because I had missed a critical mention that I only realized later: My Head is an Animal by Of Monsters & Men. 

As an added bonus of hipness (or something), this was also the only album of the year that I had loved which was also mentioned on Best of the Year lists from All The Cool Music People, like Paste and NPR and whatever. Almost every time it was mentioned on any kind of critical list, it came with a sort of disclaimer that went something like this: "So this music isn't ACTUALLY that cool or world-shattering or anything, but like, somehow we still like it anyway despite ourselves so I guess we're going to include it I mean I guess." Whatever, lists! If you like something, you like something! I'm done with disclaimers! (Until the next time I feel the need to disclaim something which will most likely happen!)

Anyway. I think I forgot about this album because I hadn't listened to it in a while, but there was this rock solid chunk of time in 2012 where I listened to it non-stop. I first heard "Little Talks" via the wonderful Amy months before it Blew Up In Your Face Everywhere You Went, from commercials to TV shows to random boring places where you have to spend your time, like waiting to get your oil changed or walking around Target. Here's the thing about this song, though: it's still good!

(Also of note: Everything recorded live for KEXP is the best. EVERYTHING. Seattle, represent.)

Once I realized that I had forgotten this on my list, and beat myself up over it--because what I include on my Best of 2012 list on my personal blog is so important to the world--I listened to the album again, and realized something remarkable about it. Well, no, let me start with the basic stuff: the basic stuff is that this is one of those albums where every single song is enjoyable. Every! Single! Song! And it makes the album such a really amazing comfort. It doesn't necessarily mean that an album has to be your favorite album ever if you like every song, but it's really COMFORTING. It makes the album really feel like a friend, moreso than others, even more than albums from artists who you may love more but whose track listings may be less consistent. Does that make sense? There is literally not a song on this album I don't like. That is SOLID. And increasingly, it feels like, even more rare than that ever was.

Okay, but here's the Remarkable For Me thing: this album also fits almost every feel. During that block of time when I listened to this on repeat--and it feels like a very vivid time frame to me now, when I listen to the album again, as happens when you listen to an album on repeat in concentrated doses and then listen again later--I was in a sort of transition, a transition from Feeling Sad and Tormenting Myself With Florence Every Day, to Maybe Feeling Like Myself Again, to Really Being Okay. This is an important transition. But the thing is, I think you can listen to this album and feel very sad: there are many melancholy tones to pick up on. And certainly "Love Love Love" is more of an always-sort-of-a-bummer-I-think song.

But I consider myself Pretty Fully Happy these days, and these songs are just as satisfying, while I'm still able to see how good they were when I was angry. Part of the reason "Little Talks" is so good is because it has that push and pull, where you don't know if it's happy or not. Where one minute they're all FINE, GO, PLEASE: "All that's left is the ghost of you. Now we're torn, torn, torn apart, there's nothing we can do. Just let me go, we'll meet again soon." And then a literal moment later it switches and says NOOO, STAY: "Now wait, wait, wait for me. Please hang around. I'll see you when I go to sleep." When angry, the conflict inherent in this song can feel so right on. When happy, it just feels like: hey, this is a damn good bouncy song!

Even "Slow and Steady," which seems like a pretty straightforward Woe Is Me song ("I spend my nights dancing with my own shadow"), can feel like that when you need it to, but it can also feel like a Fuck Yeah, And I'm Okay With Me song. (The lyrics following that line say: "And it holds me, and it never lets me go.") The chorus sways, "I move slow and steady, but I feel like a waterfall," but the question is, what kinda waterfall, huh? A waterfall of mess, or a waterfall of AWESOME? It could be either way! And/or either way is OKAY! It can be a comfort in both instances.

And even when she says, "'Cause I know, I know, I know, that time won't let me show what I want to show," in a bad place that can hurt so much, but from a better light, it's like, at least you had something you wanted to show in the first place, you know? And time is a bitch but maybe you'll be able to show it someday. Hold on to what you want to show, girl!

But, beyond my own perhaps too-much-self-analysis, when all is said and done, these dudes and dudettes are also from Iceland. And it is hard to not love adorable hipsters from Iceland!

So much flannel, so many sunglasses! Woods! So much cool! You guys!

Phew! OK, 2012 Music Reflections now (mostly) accurate. I feel so much better now.

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