Mumford & Sons – Babel

Mumford & Sons - Babel

The album cover for Babel by Mumford & Sons

The new face of rock comes with a banjo. They aren’t afraid to throw a fiddle in there now and then either. Mumford & Sons went from being unknowns to gradually becoming the biggest band in music over the last three years. Their second album Babel is evidence enough by just how many copies sold in its first week of availability. It passed first week sales of new albums from bigwigs Madonna and Justin Bieber to have the biggest opening sales of the year so far with over 600,000 sold. And they didn’t have to change a thing.

Babel is a continuation of the same style that Sigh No More had, even an extension to it, catering to the philosophy of “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” Even though the first album came out three years ago, their popularity is still relatively recent due to its gradual incline so while they could have evolved from their traditional folk sound into something either easily accessible or even completely left-field, they did neither. They’re still pretty new and their sound, while traditional in nature, is still fresh to those who place the band outside of their normal range of listening preferences so they delivered what was wanted most.

The album is met with a burning sense of familiarity that was introduced by their first record to the legions of fans and curious onlookers that became entranced with their sound. Marcus Mumford’s vocals have the ability to completely rock out, like on Hopeless Wanderer, but to also take on a whole other magnitude where it reveals a gentler side, like the hymn-like chorus of Ghosts That We Knew, where it fills out the spaces in the way an organ would, harmonizing with the other band members. It’s the ability to take a song from the levels of balladry to that of booming kick drums and speedy banjo as he shouts “so crawl on my belly til the sun goes down/I’ll never wear your broken crown” that show why this band has been at the forefront of the current evolution of rock. There’s no masking the true identity of a band that has managed to give rock cred to folk-based music and instruments often solely associated with country and bluegrass.

So while the first record was a slow grower, depending heavily on word-of-mouth, Babel has gone the opposite route. Mumford & Sons are revelling in their current popular status though the attention they receive due to their sound is both a blessing and a curse. They stand vastly apart from anything else that is receiving any amount of attention in music today but such a difference could put them into the category reserved for novelty acts. Babel may not employ any changes from Sigh No More – it shouldn’t be diminished on that account – but in the best interest of the band, they will have to branch out and expand their catalogue sooner than later. It’s not necessarily this record that wins my respect and admiration for this band but rather their achievements when taking everything they were up against into consideration. Three stars

1. Babel
2. Whispers In The Dark
3. I Will Wait
4. Holland Road
5. Ghosts That We Knew
6. Lover Of The Light
7. Lovers’ Eyes
8. Reminder
9. Hopeless Wanderer
10. Broken Crown
11. Below My Feet
12. Not With Haste

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