With metaphors of mountains and wolves threatening to turn Beneath The Skin into a lost scene from The Lord Of The Rings, a sudden heartfelt turn takes place that puts it all in context. This isn’t a record about pomposity; it’s an album about finding life affirmation. It takes time to get past the catchy single “Crystals” and its images of gold, silver and crystal eyes to find the depth and heart in Beneath The Skin.
“Organs” sees vocalist Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdottir lamenting “I am tired of punching in the wind / I am tired of letting it all in” as she bears witness to the changing nature of self as a relationship falls apart. That confusion continues in “We Sink” as Himarsdottir finds no solace; “It’s warm, the skin I’m living in / It creates and shapes what is within / So please look away, don’t look at me / As we sink into the open sea.” It’s her realization that sometimes things just don’t get better which makes the song that much more poignant.
Behind the words are an atmospheric blend of alt-rock guitar crunch, acoustic soul and keyboard flourishes that build drama around the lyrical images. It is a folk-rock sound that is reminiscent of Mumford and Sons and City and Color to name just a couple, but those similarities do nothing to interfere with the albums’ emotional resonance.
That said, Beneath The Skin provides a lasting and hopeful end as “Winter Sound” concludes “You and I will not be shaken by the winter sound.” Desolate perhaps, but Of Monsters And Men prove that beauty can be found in desolation.
Out on June 9th, Beneath The Skin comes out on all the usual formats and has some pretty cool special options on their website. Check it out.
By D.S. Barrett