Song Spotlight: “Little Talks” by Of Monsters and Men

An indie folk band, Of Monsters and Men mixes electric guitars with acoustic instruments, as well as other instruments such as accordions and horns. 


I’ve always had a soft spot for songs which sound happy and cheerful, but in reality are actually quite depressing. “Semi Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind is about meth addiction, “Pumped up Kicks” by Foster the People is written from the perspective of a school shooter, “Hey Ya!” by Outkast is about two people in a relationship simply because they feel they have to, not because they love each other, “Jump” by Van Halen was written by David Lee Roth after he read a story involving a man about to jump to his death, and “99 Luftballons” by Nena is literally about nuclear war. All of these songs are very different, but have one thing in common; they all have dark lyrics hidden behind cheerful melodies or happy sounding riffs. 

I can’t tell you exactly why this style of music is so popular. Maybe it’s our morbid fascination with dark stories, the interesting contrast between the lyrics and music, or if it’s just because we’re so blinded by the riffs or melodies that we don’t even pay attention to the words being sung. No matter the reason, this type of music makes for some excellent tunes.

Today, I want to talk about one of these examples, which happens to be one of my personal favorites. The thing is, it’s probably not one that immediately comes to mind when you think of this type of music. It’s usually one of the examples listed above. Instead, I want to spotlight Icelandic band Of Monsters and Men and their song “Little Talks”.

Of Monsters and Men, first formed in Iceland in 2010, became a popular act of the indie folk rock scene of the early 2010s. Following their first EP, “Into The Woods”, they released their debut studio album, “My Head Is An Animal.” The album earned them moderate success and charted high in countries like Australia and Ireland. 

Most of this success can largely be attributed to the album’s first single and the band’s debut single, “Little Talks.” After hearing the song for the first time, it’s not hard to see how it became such a hit. It features a fun, incredibly enjoyable mix of traditional guitars and percussion, along with horns and accordion. You also wouldn’t be blamed for thinking the song is meant to be happy and lively. 

Written in the key of D-Flat major, the track features celebratory horns throughout the chorus and verse, and the repeated chants of “Hey!” only add to the song’s joyful feel. The entire song revolves on the duet between lead singers Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar þórhallsson. Each singer’s smooth vocals give the tune a warm, inviting feel, and as they amp up the intensity for the chorus, the whole song gains a triumphant edge. 

However, while the song sounds lively, joyful, and even celebratory at times, the lyrics are about as depressing as you can get. 

Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir (left) and Ragnar Þórhallsson (Right) are the founders and lead vocalists for Of Monsters and Men. Their dueling vocals make up the bulk of “Little Talks”. 

“Little Talks” is sung from the perspective of a grieving woman (Hilmarsdóttir) conversing with her deceased husband (þórhallsson). That fun back and forth is actually the voice of a widow who is losing her mind, overcome with the sadness of losing her husband. The husband himself, who is not actually there, provides her with comfort and reassures her they’ll be together soon. As the song nears its conclusion, it’s also made clear that the woman plans to “join” her husband (I’m sure you can imagine what that entails.)

If you have your doubts about how dark the lyrics can be, lines such as “And some days I can’t even dress myself,” “It kills me to see you this way,” “We used to play outside when we were young, and full of life and full of love,” and “You’re gone, gone, gone away, I watched you disappear,” and finally “We’re torn, torn, torn apart, there’s nothing we can do. Just let me go we’ll meet again soon,” perfectly captures what the song is actually about. 

So yeah, not a very fun song, is it? Well, despite the dark nature of its lyrics, its instrumentation and the voices of the two lead singers are incredibly enjoyable to listen to. But even so, hearing some of those lyrics is guaranteed to hit you in the feels. 

Out of all the songs which sound happy but are actually quite dark and depressing, “Little Talks” isn’t one I see talk about often. Which is a shame, because it’s such a perfect example of that type of song done right. Whether it’s the duet, the horns, or the triumphant chants, you can’t deny the song is fun to listen to. But then you look at the words being sung, and it takes on a much darker tone.

All in all, “Little Talks” is a unique indie darling that needs more love.