Review Summary: With banjo in hand, Mumford & Sons have created the debut album of the year.
For too long the genre of folk and blues has been associated with the hill billy, finger picked guitar and straw in mouth kind of... well, folk. Though 2008/9 has emerged as the years that the stereotype of folk has been broken thanks to the large shift of music coming out of the west London scene. Brilliant albums from Noah and the Whale, indie songstress Laura Marling, Johnny Flynn and now Mumford & Sons provide us with the fact that folk, blues and roots is once again becoming cool
and fun to listen to. Sigh No More
is the debut effort by Marcus Mumford, Winston Marshall, Ben Lovett and Ted Dwane.
The opening and also title track, being almost an a cappella tune, ‘Sigh No More’ hits the spot perfectly. It slowly builds from its mellow beginnings into an almost danceable finish and puts goose bumps down your spine with the epic ending chorus, sending a good flow on message for the rest of the album as it follows this quite catchy and hook laden approach, such as the lead single, ‘Little Lion Man.’ Gathering almost a cult following in Australia, ‘Little Lion Man’ is a pop-ish track, though still featuring the key Mumford sound of the banjo and mandolin. Whilst the single has gained mainstream success, for the first time from these polite young humble people an expletive is thrown in over and over again through the chorus:
”But it was not your fault but mine,
And it was your heart on the line,
I really f--ked it up this time,
Didn't I, my dear"”
While they may be able to gain the mainstream following, that doesn’t keep Mumford from keeping the traditional folk like ballads flowing. ‘Awake My Soul’ is dreamily and soothingly sang by Marcus Mumford, and is probably the most beautiful track on the album, throwing in amazing one liners like, ”In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die / Where you invest your love, you invest your life”.
The only real downside of Sigh No More
is the dwindling of consistency in the last track, 'After The Storm' which seem to drag, and really add nothing new to the table making it almost boring. That being said, Mumford still capture your heart with their balladry and interesting lyrics, "You must know life to see decay/But I won't rot, I won't rot/Not this mind and not this heart."
Throughout the album you are hit with sorrowful ballads, knee slapping and danceable upbeat songs, and of course the key Mumford & Sons elements, Marcus’s incredible voice, which is embellished by the banjo, which fits just perfectly. In Sigh No More
we are treated to ‘hoe-down’ perfection, discussing themes of love and beauty. Instead, like fellow folk musician Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), they don’t want to wither away in sorrow, so Mumford & Sons have packed their album with catchy, hook filled and danceable tunes that keep you listening over and over again.
Don’t worry about the page number or bookmark; these London boys are like an entirely secret chapter of mood-altering poetry.