Of Monsters & Men: King And Lionheart

Icelandic quintet (plus/minus the occasional girl with the trumpet, or was it horn?) Of Monsters & Men is an household name among indie music enthusiasts.  Now, that’s a rather ironic sentiment, but it’s not a bad one.  Their first big single spurring them into the North American music scene was “Little Talks”.  Their latest video release “King And Lionheart” follows a similar sound, something bordering warm and nostalgic meets strings and mellow/muted vocals, but has a tinge of longing in it.  You’ll understand when you hear the song, and it’s better portrayed by the music video, which is phenomenal in all its artistry and symbolism (no, this does not mean it’s obscure — it’s actually quite touching).

You’ll likely be able to compare this band to something between Mumford & Sons, The Naked And Famous, Au Revoir Simone, and maybe something like wearing a cozy knit sweater while you watch the sunrise from a hill.  This particular song I would liken to some of the songs my mom’s 1970s collection, though nothing in particular.  It must be the accordion/tambourine combo plus the mellow and the sound of soft, soprano vocals being used in staccato in contrast to a smooth, legato baritone/tenor voice.  I’m also tempted to liken some of the sound to early (and the less twisted, though equally fantastic, songs of) Bjork.

This is maybe the one time where the video might reign supreme in place of the scene I scripted for it.  Watch the video, try to understand the frightening and painful separation of these regal siblings, and the bravery they display.  The multimedia complex of art, the barbarians, the 2D dragon, the 3D totems, the bright and ethereal rabbit/dragon “patronuses” (so to speak)…  Really pretty, really well done, and I wish they would do more with that concept.  Someone ought to take that director/creative director and have him or her create a short film with those techniques.

Aside, the scene you might get when you hear the song (and hear it alone) is akin to the feeling you get when you’re trying to encourage someone to see beyond their obstacles, their fears and their demons — teach them to be brave.

This is an image I got from both the song and its lyrics.  Start in 1930 with a scene of you and your best friend at age six; you stand up for them against a school bully.  He cries; he’s always been the soft one, always afraid of being better than he could be.  After taking a beating, you tell him to be brave, to stand up to those that would put them down.  You tell him to be strong.   Three secret handshakes later, you’ve decided you’ll be friends for life.  Flash forward to the future, to a darker time, to 1942.  Said friend is in the army, fighting for family, friends, loved ones — his sweetheart.  You’ve done well; you’ve taught him to be brave, even though you’re both so afraid.  Any moment could mean the end; your futures are so uncertain here in the trenches.  Boom.  It came out of nowhere.  Everyone is scrambling to safety.  You’ve lost feeling in your legs.  You can’t move.  Your friend is yelling at you from several feet away.  You can’t hear him.  You’re hurt.  You tell him to go, you yell at him to evacuate.  He makes to leave, fear pooling up behind his eyes, sucking colour from his face.  In seconds, the resolve in his eyes seem to change; he screams something on the lines of, “I won’t leave you behind.  We don’t leave anyone behind.”  Suddenly, he’s hoisting you up onto his shoulders.  He can barely carry you; you were always bigger and stronger, braver despite your own fears.  You had to be; you had to lead by example.  Yet, despite your weight, he’s lifting you.  I think I’ve taught you well.  You’re the king, and I’m a lionheart. /fin

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