SNL Sound-Off: Björk is Not in Of Monsters and Men
Let's get one thing straight, everybody: Björk ain't moonlightin' in a boot-stompy band and that guy from Gang of Thrones isn't a Southpaw (or so we think). There seemed to be a bit of confusion after Iceland's Of Monsters and Men joined Zach Galifianakis on Saturday Night Live this week, as a bunch of people raced each other to clumsily thumb a tweet about how Björk looks good in a fedora/why Samwell Tarly dyed his hair blonde, etc. It was kind of refreshing to see the reactions to the cheek-pinchably twee folk outfit delving outside of the expected "HAHA GUYS LOOK IT'S THE LUMINEERS BUT FOREIGN" ilk, though the comparisons to Mumford & Sons/The Decemberists/etc. were inevitable, but still -- Of Monsters and Men were just plain vanilla with their performances of their hits "Little Talks" and "Mountain Sound" on SNL.
Do you think "Little Talks" would be less grating if "Ho Hey" never existed? Is it fair to bring Of Monsters and Men down because their shouty-bits song was eclipsed by one a smidge less tolerable that came out half a year after it? (Yeah, who am I kidding, right?) Truth is, "Little Talks" has some beautiful breakdowns, a chorus more infectious than full-blown conjunctivitis and a galloping heartbeat that snags the interest of a passing listener. That said, Of Monsters and Men either chowed down on some Benedryl before stopping by the studios at 30 Rock or were having an off-night, because "Little Talks" just felt sleepy. The basic chord progressions, his-and-hers wordplay and lack of harmonies make "Little Talks" a simple song by definition, so its value's determined entirely by their live performance of it. See this video of them performing the same song at the Newport Folk Festival last summer? They're enthusiastic. They're belting it out. They're arduously hurtling towards each chorus and keeping every moving musical part in check while doing so, and if a band is showing up and putting that kind of energy out there, it doesn't matter if they're singing "Old McDonald," ears will perk up and see what all the fuss is about. This performance of "Little Talks" was entirely devoid of that essential vibe (save for that great trumpet line) and it was a shrug of an opener at best.
Maybe they ate a banana or something to spike their blood sugar for "Mountain Sound," but Of Monsters and Men came back with a bit more fervor for Round 2. It be nice to see them break out of the strum-struuuuum-ee-strummy-strum-strum rhythm that every single song of theirs seems to sit on, but hey, accordions keep things interesting and this inspired a little bit of bouncing at the knees. Still, the kinetic air of an Of Monsters and Men live show is in abundant evidence in a simple YouTube search of concert clips that, if nothing else, will keep you from using their CD as a coaster the way you did with The Lumineers.
And now for the Twitter recap, better known as "Let's Compare The SNL Band To A Bunch Of Other Shit While Trying And Mostly Failing At Making Jokes!" game.
See also: SNL Sound-Off: Alabama Shakes