Mumford & Sons is much more than a folk band. They have serious skills with the strings for sure, but that's not what makes them stand out. It is the intensity with which they perform. It is the epic, poetic lyrics and their soul shattering delivery. They make music their listeners can feel.
After their earth-shaking success with Sigh No More, indie-folk enthusiasts have been hungry for more for over a year now. If we, as fans, wanted nothing else from these guys, we needed another album that shook us to our core.
Would Babel live up to Sigh No More?
We've all been pandering over their recent single “I Will Wait” for weeks now. None of us really thought this album would let us down, did we?
To be honest, I was a little nervous. It's an excellent song, for sure. It's the highest energy track they have given us, but I was scared that they had lost their edge. Let's be real. Sigh No More was an angry, passionate album. ”I Will Wait” is hopeful and optimistic. Naturally, they have reason to be happy with all of their success but would this newfound optimism leave their new album empty?
Babel put my worries to rest. They take their fans someplace new with this album, but they deliver it with the same energy and fist-shaking passion as they did before. I admit the first few songs are a little forgettable. They are still brilliant, but not mind-blowing. It's obvious in the first half of the album, the boys are teasing us. It's foot stomping fun, b
ut the big guns come out later in the album. It's actually the same pattern they followed with Sigh No More. They started out easier on their listeners with “Roll Away Your Stone”, but deliver the sucker punch with “White Blank Page”. It works the same way with this album. Tracks like “Babel”, “Whisper in the Dark” and “Holland Road” don't threaten to scare anyone away. Later, tracks like “Hopeless Wanderer” and “Broken Crown” are heavier and more demanding.
If you ask me, “Broken Crown” is Mumford & Sons at their finest. If you liked “Little Lion Man” or “Dustbowl Dance”, you'll be pleased with “Broken Crown”. The lyrics are significantly heavier in the God and sinner language that so many of us were captivated by with Sigh No More.
“Craw on my belly until the sun goes down. I'll never wear your broken crown”
Babel is composed entirely of this brand of lyrics. No disappointment here. If you're more of an authentic folk enthusiast, stick around for the last bit of the album to hear “Not with Haste” and “For Those Below”.
So, yes, their mood is more upbeat than before, but this comes at no cost to their fans. The strong, Godly lyrics are still there. The smoky voiced lead singer, Marcus Mumford still delivers them with the same passion as before. The instrument playing has possibly even improved and not one second of these sixty minutes of folk magic is disappointing to genuine fans. It is still Mumford & Sons at their finest. They've presented us with something fresh and enjoyable.
I don't suspect this band will fall into a sophomore slump. In fact, with the energy and momentum they exhibit in Babel, these boys are just getting started.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Label: Glassnote Records