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Mumford & Sons Stick to Their Winning Formula with New Album Babel

Posted on the 26 September 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost
Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons. Photo Credit: Flickr Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons. Photo Credit: Flickr

The background

Mumford & Sons’ debut album Sigh No More was a smash hit and, according to the music critics, it seems there is little to dislike about their second offering Babel - expect perhaps the fact that the band are rather posh.

Too posh for pop?

The Times remarked that, “you can see why Mumford & Sons annoy people. Upper-class pop stars adopting gypsy personas, they have taken the trappings of folk and country and applied them to the mainstream.” The Daily Mail said that their collective backgrounds made it impossible for them to be taken seriously, as true musicians need “a personal hinterland … If your life has taken you from, say, nursery to private school, to Classics degree, to messing about with guitars, the results are liable to seem, well . . . unlived in.” NME briefly touched upon the irony that their “austerity indie” has made them rich, but noted that, “If they ain’t broke, why fix it?”

More of the same

“Sigh No More, to me, is like jogging on the spot for 50 minutes, while men in waistcoats whine and strum in my ear” said The Daily Mail’s David Bennun. However, the album sold over two million copies in the US alone and it seems that Mumford & Sons know a good formula when they find one. Their follow-up album seems to be more of the same. “There are no surprises on ‘Babel’. It’s a retooled, streamlined adaptation of ‘Sigh No More’, market-tested and ready to go” opined NME. Yet this may not be so much of a bad thing. Though it is “as challenging as a one-piece jigsaw,” NME noted that “what Mumford & Sons do, with ruthless efficiency, is write surging singalong anthems for fairweather festival-goers. As any number of jealous songwriters will attest, that isn’t anywhere near as easy as they make it look.”

Mumford go hard

Huffington Post said the album is full of “indie folk-rolk swag” and praised its “gripping emotion, vulnerability, dark moments, the banjo – all elements for a great musical composition.” HuffPo took time to praise lead singer Marcus Mumford: “his powerful tone, which is beautifully gritty and gravelly, and downright commanding. He’s got one of the best voices of our time.”

The Times admired the band for ignoring their detractors and sticking to what they do best. They will never be accepted in the same way as other bands, perhaps in light of their ‘posh’ credentials, but, “they have weathered the storm and returned with another collection of songs destined for a mauling from the fashionable, and mass acceptance from the world at large.”

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