You’ve probably heard the name Of Monsters and Men before. They reached the top 10 on music charts internationally in 2012 with their debut album My Head Is an Animal, and the single Little Talks had similar success. They’ve been quiet after releasing a single and a live album in 2013, but now they’re releasing a new album Beneath the Skin in June, with Crystals acting as the lead single and first taste of the new album.
However, Crystals doesn’t feel new at all. It bears a striking resemblance to the songs from their previous album, featuring the same folk sound, with light drum beats, guitar and some brass instruments supporting the equally important vocals of Nanna and Ragnar. The song is consistent in its structure, going from verse to chorus that both feature a similar mid-tempo energy. It’s a formula that was used constantly on their first album, and in turn pinpoints the problem with Crystals. It sounds so much like what they’ve done before that there’s no real sense of progression or evolution, leading it to sound like a song from My Head Is an Animal rather than a brand new song.
The song feels like it goes nowhere and ends almost without any real climax after the middle eight, keeping it from making any real impression. Nothing about the song attempts to draw you in; it just plays itself out without doing anything. To its credit, the production of the song feels stronger than their previous work, and while it isn’t a major difference it does help somewhat.
In the end, it’s not enough to carry the song. It’s got all the same qualities that made their previous music interesting, but the uninspired structure makes it feel like a step down rather than a step up. It does nothing to stand out from what came before it, which isn’t how a lead single should feel. Crystals plays it too safe to offer any real excitement for their return.