If you were expecting the first album in four years from Icelandic folk-pop connoisseurs Of Monsters and Men to be a continuation of their dual-harmony kitsch, you’ll be duly disappointed. The chirpy campfire indie-folk of 2011 debut ‘My Head Is An Animal’ and the murky depths of 2015’s ‘Beneath The Skin’ have been disregarded for a squeaky clean indie-pop sponge bath that soaks the colour of love into your eardrums.
‘Fever Dream’ is an indie-pop colour-by-numbers, with the warping, fuzzed-up distortion and ever-so-funky basslines of opener ‘Alligator’ acting as a blueprint for the albums 11 tracks. Early birds ‘Ahay’ and ‘Rororo’ are folk-laden red herrings, bursting into kaleidoscopic variations of blessed-out pop we've come to expect from ex-folk luminaries.
Much like the time Mumford & Sons ditched their banjos for electric guitars, Of Monsters and Men put away their guitars and wrote the majority of the record on a computer. The synthetic inspiration lends ‘Fever Dream’ a certain polish - if they were going to go full-on pop, they were going to bring their A-game. Co-vocalist Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdottir steals the spotlight from Ragnar Porhallsson throughout the record, opting to employ him sporadically to dramatic effect. It’s a brave departure which leaves the record lacking the very thing that set them up apart from other folk troupes.
In a year where many artists are embracing technological change in the face of a new frontier in sound, Of Monsters and Men can be forgiven for forsaking their folk roots. ‘Fever Dream’ is an evolution they needed to take after an extended break, and it’s a beautiful explosion of colour which radiates the more you listen.