Review Summary: Is the sophomore slump just superstition? Sadly (for some), in Mumford & Sons' case it isn't.
Mumford & Sons burst onto the scene in 2009 with the singles “The Cave” and “Little Lion Man” from their album Sigh No More
. This was something new for the radio, which generally only got as diverse as a poppy Coldplay single. The playtime the singles received shot Mumford and Sons into the mainstream, gaining fans practically overnight. M&S have been quiet lately, and it wasn’t until early July of 2012 that the people who actually cared got a new single from the band, entitled “I Will Wait”. The video released with “I Will Wait” featured a road, and only that. If this was any indication of what the new album was to be like, it would be correct: long and monotonous.
The new album Babel
has been released, and as far as I know there has been very little press coverage regarding it. Hell, the only reason I found out about it was due to some Facebook post. The first song, named the same as the album, is a decent enough album-opener. It’s strong and reminds the listener of M&S’s previous singles, albeit a lesser one.
The problem I think I have with this album is that an indie band finally made it onto the radio and they head in the direction of…the exact same sound. They had the upper hand, before Gotye or fun. were heralded as the new faces of popular indie rock. M&S had a chance to change the game and failed.
I’m not a fan of Mumford & Sons, although their singles can be catchy when I’m feeling in an off mood. All I can really relate M&S to is The Dropkick Murphys, which isn’t saying much. I enjoy the folky feel the band has, but too much banjo plucking and fiddle playing can get on my nerves.This album changes virtually nothing from its predecessor, keeping the same sound and “emotional” lyrics. The album isn’t terrible, sure, but it’s just the same thing, repeated 15 times. One thing I really enjoy is listening to that same banjo part over and over (sarcasm, if you can’t tell). Another thing we can come to expect from M&S is a song that generally starts off quiet, but builds and builds and builds. Y’know the one I’m talking about? All of them? Oh.
I can’t say what the general Mumford & Sons fan would want from their second album, but I’m speaking as a general fan of music when I say that doing something different can’t hurt too badly. There are still the cheering “Ahhhh-ahhhhhhh” moments and the lead singer Marcus Mumford still has exact same voice, not trying to vary at all. Almost absolutely nothing has changed. The music itself isn’t necessarily bad, it’s just not my cup of tea. The band seems to lack the drive that got them noticed, as the songs all seem to run into each other. There's no heart in this album, regardless of what the lyrics try to trick you into thinking.
One thing I can say I love about this album is their cover of "The Boxer" by a little known band that also features an ampersand, Simon & Garfunkel. The original song is a timeless classic but M&S do it justice, managing not to duplicate it but make it their own.
Some standout tracks could be “Babel,” “Lover of the Light,” or “I Will Wait,” even though they generally follow the same formula as the band’s previous album’s singles. The album will probably be praised by M&S fans, but to the general passerby, this album is just all the same. Same sound, same lyric style, same vocals. I can recommend hearing it if you’re a fan of the band or curious to see what a follow-up from “that British indie-folk band” Mumford & Sons sounds like. Overall, though, I’m not all that impressed. Maybe Mumford & Sons should try to be a tad bit more diverse and stop tryingto stay familiar. Congratulations to Mumford & Sons for releasing Sigh No More, Pt. 2