MATURE SEQUEL Mumford & Sons’ new album is an upgraded version of their first. MUMFORDANDSONS.COM
MATURE SEQUEL Mumford & Sons’ new album is an upgraded version of their first.

Everyone has a favorite band. One that can make good days better and can comfort you on the bad ones. A band that has an embarrassingly high number of plays on iTunes and an even higher number of performances in the shower. For me, that band is Mumford & Sons. I discovered Mumford at their performance at the Grammy Awards with Bob Dylan and the Avett Brothers a couple of years ago. I was immediately drawn to their foot-stomping melodies and heartfelt lyrics, and apparently I was not alone. Millions of fans of the British folk-rock darlings catapulted their first album, Sigh No More, and its hit singles “Little Lion Man” and “The Cave” to the top of the charts and the band to international fame.

With so much success with one fairly concrete formula, some fans feared Mumford & Sons would fall prey to the allure of changing up their sound — a la Radiohead, Green Day, Linkin Park and many others — or would not be able to sustain their graceful arc into stardom. Fortunately the band’s newest album, Babel, silences the doubters.

Babel presents a whole host of new, decidedly Mumford creations that cross the entire folk-rock spectrum, from the rollicking, energetic first single “I Will Wait” to the more quiet and sincere “Reminder” to the dark and brooding “Broken Crown.” All of the songs on the album are cemented by the powerful vocals of lead singer Marcus Mumford, who certainly has one of the most unique singing voices in music today.

However, the best track on Babel is “Lover of the Light.” Swelling banjo accompaniment, amazing harmonies, emotionally heartfelt lyrics — if there is a quintessential Mumford & Sons song, this is it.

While all of the songs on Babel could have fit in just fine on the previous album, upon a second or third (or in my case, eighth) listen, the lyrics start to truly sink in, and it becomes apparent that this band has matured since its 2009 debut. While Sigh No More had its Shakespeare references, those high-minded touches were superficial. On Babel, every track speaks on a far deeper emotional level than those on Sigh No More, and though the two albums may sound similar, this new collection shows a new depth in songwriting from the four members of the band, all of whom are credited writers on every track aside from an amazing cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer.”

As tumblr blogger plantagenet said about their old album, “Mumford & Sons basically play dubstepmusic, but instead of waiting for the bass drop, you spend the whole song just waiting for the inevitable frenzied banjo strumming.”

While this statement still rings true for Babel — and it’s true that very little has changed on the surface — with this new album, Mumford & Sons has grown up and successfully avoided the sophomore slump with joy and grace.

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