So, I don’t know about you, but I love Mumford & Sons, and have been highly anticipating Babel. Marcus Mumford has this powerful raspy voice that is totally his. It is pretty obvious to anyone who has heard a Mumford & Sons song at least once what their sound is – folk. There is no other way to put it. Simple chords, catchy lyrics, and a beat you can’t help but slap your thigh to. But you may have noticed after Sigh No More, their first album that came out 3 years ago, every song of theirs seems to sound the same. Now, if you’re a Mumf fan you’re thinking one of two things. 1) “What!? Have you even heard Thistle & Weeds? It sounds nothing like The Cave!” or 2) “So? I like their sound.” Those who agree with thought 1, please hear me and the 2s out. What makes Mumford & Sons so great is the fact they know what they’re good at, and they stick to it. And there is nothing wrong with that.
Babel is proof of that. In fact, take a listen to Broken Crown, sound familiar? It’s Thistle and Weeds. Not exactly, I know. But pretty damn close. And you know what? We love it. So what if you don’t use more than 4 or 5 chords? So what if all do is wail and scream your raspy scream Marcus? We love it. And so what if all your songs are about unrequited love? We love unrequited love!
Okay, but in all seriousness, I really like this album. The first time, I thought I was just listening to Sigh No More with new lyrics. The second time I still thought it sounded the same, but maybe better? More mature perhaps? I must ask you again to hear me out. You’re probably thinking I am an unreliable Mumf fan now. Sigh No More was, in my opinion, one of the best debut albums to come out in the past five years. The songs flowed perfectly from one to the other. Their sound was different, freeing, and had the ability to transport us to a place we don’t often visit in this day & age. And if you’ve listened to Babel once or twice, you probably don’t think it’s anything special. My challenge to you is to listen to two songs: Lover of the Light and Hopeless Wanderer.
Lover of the Light is the perfect stadium song. No more small stage pubs for these guys. Well, who am I kidding? They will always play at pubs. They wouldn’t be Mumford & Sons if they didn’t. But now they have a song that I can imagine filling a large stadium, every note reverberating and surrounding the audience. Everyone will want to “love the one they hold.” And I can say the same for Hopeless Wanderer. The whole crowd going hush as the first few fast notes of the piano are plucked. Then everyone will begin to sway to the familiar rhythm. And you know when everyone in the band sings a chorus the audience sure as hell will join in. Especially when they know those fast guitar strokes are coming up. The swaying will stop and the bouncing will begin.
But Hopeless Wanderer has another thing going for it. I’m willing to say it is the stand out song of this album. I can’t put my finger on what it is exactly that makes it different from most Mumf songs. It seems to be a little bit of everything. The very prominent piano instead of acoustic guitar in the beginning. The fact that Marcus is not heartbroken or angry, but his voice is actually giving off a tiny bit of sex appeal. And there is something else. Something purely electric going on. I’m not a musician, so if I’m wrong in saying it sounds like there is an electric guitar there, I deeply apologize. But what! Mumford & Sons going electric? This song is definitely unique for the boys.
So, yes on first, second, and perhaps even third listen, Babel does sound a bit like Sigh No More 2.0 But don’t give up hope. The boys haven’t lost it. They just know what they’re good at. And any real Mumf fan out their knows – we love it!