22 years ago during trad and folk’s last chart crossover with Hothouise Flowers, The Waterboys, and The Black Velvet Band, the redoutable Cathal Coughlan of Fatima Mansions used to wear a t-shirt baring the legend “Raggle Taggle; Nein Danke”. He may have to drag it out again for the runaway Irish success of Of Monsters and Men. Essentially an Icelandic version of Mumford and Sons, their debut album is currently at No 1 in Ireland and it’s easy to see why. There are touches of Arcade Fire’s expansive elemental rock and Mumford’s designer authenticity on songs that surge and thrash with guitars, brass, accordions and the vocals of Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar “Raggi” Þórhallsson. Lyrically, Of Monsters and Men are steeped in magicality and folklore and these songs burst with talk of pet dragonflies, sweeping images of Iceland’s panoramic beauty, and sea-faring types and mountainy men. After the great opening track Dirty Paws, the galloping and unbound sound gives way to a reliance on throaty “hey heys!” and boots stomping on dusty floorboards while the second half of the album is an uneventful trudge that fails to match the energy of the better songs such as Little Talks and the shimmering Slow and Steady. What's Icelandic for no thanks?

Alan Corr