Mumford & Sons
Mumford & Sons must have entered their recording sessions with the saying ‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ running through their heads. On Babel, their second release after the mega success of 2009’s Sigh No More, they’ve stuck to the arena folk pop formula that took them from humble London folkies to backing Bob Dylan at the Grammy’s.
They’ve upped the production significantly, making every strum that little bit punchier, every banjo run that little bit twangier. It works to deliver an album that could be Sigh No More Volume 2, a record full of stomping folk tunes drenched in religious imagery and that frantic strumming.
Tracks such as single “I Will Wait” recall “Little Lion Man”, stadium aimed songs that hide huge pop hooks amongst the chaotic mandolins and chanting harmonies. A nicely arranged horn section pops up in the tracks “Holland Road” and the colossal “Broken Crown”.
Don’t mistake them for jolly jiggers though, the darkness that seeps through on “Broken Crown” is heavy and palpable, anchored by Mumford’s anguished cry: “Crawl on my belly til the sun goes down/ I’ll never wear your broken crown”.
Slower tracks such as a the lovely “Ghosts That We Knew” and “Below My Feet” offer a welcome break from the rat race and strip it back to a gentle acoustic under Marcus Mumford’s rocking vocals. Themselves kings of dynamics, the songs rise and fall and spin around the crazy catchy hooks that M&S manage to twist into each line.
It may not stray far from their first record, and it certainly won’t sway the non-believers, but the Mumford & Sons fans will relish the consistency.
Key Tunes: “I Will Wait”, “Broken Crown”, “Ghosts That We Knew”
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