Mumford and Sons
Sigh No More


3.5
great

Review

by Davey Boy STAFF
January 29th, 2010 | 948 replies | 66,041 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Delivering folk - and the banjo - to the masses.

When an artist attempts to bring a non-mainstream style of music to the masses, you can practically hear the cynics clearing their throat in anticipation of chanting "you sold out". Yet, one theory suggests that if a band can deliver a niche genre to the mainstream populous, they should be applauded for having the talent to achieve what few others have previously done. One such genre is folk, and while the likes of Bon Iver and the Fleet Foxes have spearheaded a resurgence in all things folksy, this has been more from a critical viewpoint rather than in the popularity stakes. Things could be about to change however, with the emergence of London quartet Mumford & Sons. Call them nu-folk of folk-pop if you like, but if lead single 'Little Lion Man' is anything to go by, then the world could soon become their oyster.

Complete with one of the catchiest sing-along choruses of the past five years, 'Little Lion Man' is backed by a bluegrass banjo-led hoedown that makes it difficult for anyone to stay still. And while the lead single is the clear highlight, this is by no means a one-song LP. The intense and noisy climax of the Manchester Orchestra like 'Dustbowl Dance' will also have most singing along, while 'White Blank Page' impresses similarly. That said, this debut also contains many a slower and sparse moment to win over the purists. In fact, one of the album's strengths is its wise track ordering, which has a kind of one-up/one-down pattern in terms of pace and volume. No matter what the type of track, nothing outstays its welcome, making 'Sigh No More' a relatively easy listen from start to finish.

The opening title track instantly showcases the quartet's impressive group vocal harmonies, but as the album progresses it is lead vocalist (and guitarist) Marcus Mumford who takes center stage. He has just enough of that "common man" quality to not only connect with the audience, but also sell the overly uplifting lyrics which do tend to get a little repetitive and grate come the end of the LP. While it is definitely pleasing to hear a folk album that is anything but depressing, lyrics such as "plant your hope with good seed, don't cover yourself with thistle & weeds" only work up until a certain stage in proceedings.

All great albums need an X-factor and in the case of 'Sigh No More' it comes in the form of producer Markus Dravs. Dravs had a major influence on Bjork's critically acclaimed 1997 release 'Homogenic', while being predominantly overlooked for his work on Coldplay's 2008 surprise 'Viva La Vida...'. What Dravs brings to 'Sigh No More' is some grandiose variety, a trait often ignored on folk albums. Horns can be heard on 'The Cave', there is a trumpet solo on 'Winter Winds', strings on 'White Blank Page', and piano plays a key role on 'Dustbowl Dance'. Furthermore, (similarly to Arcade Fire, who Dravs has also worked with) practically every track builds up in a rousing fashion, even some of those aforementioned slower and sparse cuts.

As always with an album that attempts to bring some accessibility to a niche genre, 'Sigh No More' is certain to have its detractors. Weaknesses such as being too slick, repetitive lyrics and a rigid song structure will be brought up, as will the tiresome debate over the band's upbringing. However, one needs to also keep in mind that this is a debut LP by a rather young quartet. The room for improvement only makes this consistent, catchy and accessible album all the more successful. And seriously, who can dislike an album that brings the banjo a level of popularity not seen since 1972 film 'Deliverance' was nominated for three Academy Awards? Oh, and by the way, there are thankfully no pig squeals here!

Recommended Tracks: Little Lion Man, Dustbowl Dance, White Blank Page & Winter Winds.



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user ratings (1070)
Chart.
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
ImTheOnlyThugInTheBuildin (3)
An album that is only slightly above average...

Adam Knott EMERITUS (1.5)
If you don't listen to it properly, Sigh No More is a fantastic debut....

Michael Philp (3.5)
Despite murdering their best idea with the best intentions Mumford & Sons still manage to craft a se...

doug (4.5)
With banjo in hand, Mumford & Sons have created the debut album of the year....


Comments:Add a Comment 
DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 29th 2010



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Sorry, I couldn't resist that conclusion. Anyone who has no idea what I'm talking about, go watch 'Deliverance'.

Eclectic
January 29th 2010



3302 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review Davey, i think Dougie will appreciate this

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 29th 2010



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks Michael. Dougie will probably curse me for not rating it at least a 4.

Were you also going to review this at one stage?

Piglet
January 29th 2010



4652 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

A moderate, easy read
good review

Eclectic
January 29th 2010



3302 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yes, I was, in fact I already have half of it written up.
i think its still legit to post mine, I'll just be critiscising it a lot more because of the repetitiveness of the whole thing. I listened to this like 3 or 4 times and I only remember a few tracks, the rest blur together.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 29th 2010



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks Patrick. I definitely aim for my reviews to be an easy read. Wouldn't want people heading for their dictionaries.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 29th 2010



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"i think its still legit to post mine" Of course it is Michael.

"repetitiveness of the whole thing... the rest blur together." That's why I made specific mention of the wise track-ordering. I really think it helps minimise some of the album's weaknesses.


Piglet
January 29th 2010



4652 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

(looks at Rationalist).

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 29th 2010



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Haha. I promise I had no-one in mind when I said that. Only going by what I like to read.

Douchebag
January 29th 2010



3624 Comments


I really want to hear this.

Eclectic
January 29th 2010



3302 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Not for me unfortunately, I listened to a song and was like "OK, this has gone for 2 minutes and shows no signs of becoming more active. FINALLY!"
*a minute passes*
"Oh, it got more active, like every other song, damn."

Piglet
January 29th 2010



4652 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Of course. hehe

Gyromania
January 29th 2010



15199 Comments


Excellent review, Davey. While I enjoyed the read, it seems as though you enjoyed it more than what your rating suggests, and ends up reading more like a 4/5 or slightly higher. I have the same favorite tracks as you, although I prefer White Blank Page over Little Lion Man.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 29th 2010



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's difficult to know if you'll like this Croc. In fact, it's difficult to pick who will like it & who won't. I was even surprised at myself for liking it to this extent.

Yeah Michael, they do over-use the rousing climax a little too much. But I see the glass as half full there. I'd rather too many of them, rather than none of them... Which is usually what the genre presents.

Douchebag
January 29th 2010



3624 Comments


Yeah I was suprised at how much I love Little Lion Man. If you were to tell me a few months ago I would be listening to folk and banjo I would've looked at you strange.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 29th 2010



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks gyro... And I just knew that someone was going to say "seems like a 4 review". Congrats, you win the race!

Ummm, I guess I glossed over the weaknesses a little too quickly. But they do exist and while I can forgive most of them because this is a debut, I can't ignore them when rating the album. Also, I think I sound more positive than I actually am because I am a little surprised I liked it so much. But don't get me wrong, this is a solid 3.5. Closer to a 4, than a 3 for me.

Eclectic
January 29th 2010



3302 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

To me it just seems like they're a one trick pony.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 29th 2010



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Could well be Michael... But many a great band have appeared the same with just a debut album to show as evidence. The jury is out on that one & I think that the fact that there is more than just 1 very good song on here could be a good sign for the band.


Douchebag
January 29th 2010



3624 Comments


I mean people were calling Arctic Monkeys one trick ponys with their first album.

With any luck mumford and sons will release an album with Josh Homme full of down tuned bajos and moody bass lines!

Eclectic
January 29th 2010



3302 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yes, I can see where you're coming from, I do hope that their next album expands a little more upon their sound and perhaps experiments a little. They've gotten the attention they need, now let's see what they can really do.



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