video premiere: of monsters and men, ‘wolves without teeth’

The Icelandic five-piece returns with an arresting visual that brings ballroom dancing to the basketball court.

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Jan 27 2016, 3:00pm

"And I run from wolves, breathing heavily at my feet. And I run from wolves, tearing into me without teeth."

Given this chorus -- which arrives over Of Monsters and Men's swelling, explosive melodies -- you'd be forgiven for thinking the group's new music video would feature, well, some wolves. Actually, wolves seemed more than sorta likely, considering the band will make a cameo appearance in the upcoming season of Game of Thrones. But the Icelandic folk-pop powerhouse's standout single isn't literally about toothless forrest canines. As co-vocalist Raggi Þórhallsson tells us, "the song is about fear and our relationship with our fears -- how we so often inflate them with our own imagination and self-doubt. We run from what we don't know instead of facing it and in those moments of panic, we only find ourselves heading deeper into the woods."

Of Monsters and Men teamed up with director Magnus Leifsson to explore those feelings of vulnerability and bravery in an unexpected setting: a ballroom dance competition staged at a school basketball court. "The video revolves around a young couple, portrayed by Hanna Rún Oladóttir and Nikita Bazev, who are seen preparing for a mysterious event," Leifsson says. Their living room practice sessions eventually lead up to the big show, in which the couple dances in front of a local sports hall full of less than excitable spectators. "The whole event seems to be a bit dull when they start dancing," Leifsson says, "but in the end, we switch to the world how the dancers experience themselves." Though the pair is really dancing on the three point line, their passion helps transport them underneath a spotlit chandelier, if only in their minds.

"When Magnus first presented us with his idea, we took some time to think about the story and how it could relate to the lyrics and feel of the song," said Raggi. "As performers, we could relate to the vulnerability of the characters and the uneasy feeling of putting something out there that you have created." Of Monsters and Men also fell for the director's idiosyncratic visuals: "It feels like every single piece of furniture or object in the video is there because it serves a narrative purpose," Raggi adds of the pearl pink bedroom and wood paneled den.

If you want to master Hanna and Nikita's moves before catching Of Monsters and Men live, you've got just enough time to pull a Silver Linings Playbook: the multiplatinum quintet kicks off its 2016 global tour in March at Colombia's Festival Estereo Picnic before taking the Coachella stage and joining Florence + The Machine for six dates in June. Face your fears and slip on those dancing shoes.

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Text Emily Manning

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