Mumford & Sons have really carved out their own path in today’s mixed up musical world – many have tried to replicate their modern-folk sound but no one has achieved the success they have with it. Their music has a strong crossover appeal – reaching listeners young and old and being liked by all of them. Their new album, Babel, definitely feels like an extension of Sigh No More rather than a marked improvement, and there are a couple of tracks that really resemble some of their biggest successes from it, Below My Feet in particular is a contender to match the fame of Little Lion Man. As expected, the album has light and dark, from the stomping Broken Crown to the torment of Lover’s Eyes.
I have to admit I was never a fan of Sigh No More – I found it somewhat bland and got very quickly bored of hearing it all the time, everywhere. That said, I watched the band headline Fridays’s main stage at Rockness this year and their music made a bit more sense after seeing them live. Maybe that’s why I’ve warmed to this album more than the first, it is almost as if Babel is an updated, more honed-in version of Sigh No More that encompasses their live sound more effectively. Regardless of my opinion, the success of this album is a given – though I do wonder where they will go next.
Mumford & Sons have a sort of trademark in that their music is very delicate for some time but then builds to an all-familiar crescendo. Marcus Mumford’s voice is strong, thick and instantly recognisable and their lyrics are very rustic and regal (whether authentic or not is up to the listener to decide) – often with reference to history, the bible and various literature, and sometimes with no modern references at all. Which makes me think – just where can Mumford & Sons go from here, what can/will album number 3 bring?
This album is definitely a comfortable step to the side for the band. Those who loved the first album will undoubtedly feel the same way about this one. Babel may well pick up a few extra fans for the band along the way now that they have the standing they do given the success of Sign No More – but there isn’t new more to say about Babel.