Moonlight transformations can have us becoming monsters either inside or out. What is the soundtrack to such a beast?
The bulk of Band of Horses’ “Monsters” won’t scare you much. It’s a light, reflective song picking its way through remembrance, musing on “efforts buried deep beneath our hearts and somewhere in our stomachs.” The folky strings are a bright outline to lyrics about alienation: “When awful people they surround you/ well ain’t they just like monsters/ they come to feed on me/ giant little animals feed.” There’s a nice build at the end, and as with most songs by this band, the entire thing rests on Ben Bridwell’s vocals. Ultimately, it’s a song about coming together instead of being frightened apart. “If I am lost, it’s only for a little while” is the takeaway as the coda brings the requisite crescendo built on simple but lovely overlaid guitar work. The monsters here are easily wisped away.
Our second song has a remarkably similar pace and feel. After an innocuous enough intro it jumps right to the matter at hand: “I know I’m older but there are still monsters in all of my closets/ sometimes I feed them and some they get bigger than others, depends on the day.” Between verses, subtle ghostly vocals fill the gaps and the almost-cute instrumentation can be interpreted as welcoming or unsettling. The lyrics toy with the push and pull of adulthood versus childhood, with meditations on size and capability. The narrator contemplates what it’s like to be a monster, wondering if it’s possible to “sit and reason” with others. I picture a group of stop-motion animation monsters sitting around a pastel bedroom on a bright fall day. “One of them has the most piteous face and he says that I look just like him” and “one of them she’s so intelligent…she’ll tell you she knows it all.” It’s a rather calm tune but still has the layers that Lucius excels at.
Winner: Along with being similar in musical genre, this title bout has an extra level of symmetry: both of these songs are the penultimate tracks of each band’s full-length debut. Nifty, huh? “Monsters” is a pretty great title, and seems to be a strong concept late into a record. Of these two, I think Lucius’ captures the crown. Both are enjoyable journeys, but the second song is slightly more haunted.