Surely someday, Of Monsters and Men, the successful, melodic pop band from Iceland, will actually burrow beneath the skin and reveal genuine depth, but the pleasures of this, their second record, remain mostly on the surface. Fortunately, they’ve buffed up the production, adding dimension to the acoustic pop of their lightweight, at times twee 2012 debut, “My Head Is an Animal.” With shards of electric guitar and tremors of distortion providing some teeth, the songs are still preoccupied with gauzy imagery, as allusions to nature and animals intimate mystery and profundity. The best tracks explore heartache, anger, and loneliness directly, peeling back the layers of pretension to find the humanity. “Organs” is a beautiful, vulnerable ballad with an emotionally raw performance from the band’s anchor, vocalist Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdóttir. In her best moments, she evokes the lithe loveliness of the Sundays’ Harriet Wheeler, and when she cuts to the core (the turbulent “Black Water”) it’s apparent the band is capable of making deeply affecting music. (Out Tuesday)
ESSENTIAL “Black Water”
Ken Capobianco can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.