Folksy London quartet Mumford & Sons undertake a biblical tone this time round in their sophomore offering Babel, due out Sept 25. Having successfully debuted with hit record Sigh No More, the expectations that they had to exceed was already considerably high.
Fans of their distinctive harmonies and atmospheric acoustic melodies will be pleased to know that Babel encompasses more of the sound they have come to associate the band with, although with subtly darker undertones.
Still, single I Will Wait is a fast-tempo banjo-driven track, the very elements that made Little Lion Man such a hit. The song speaks of a weariness yet manages to keep a light optimism that I feel endears me to Mumford that much more.
Taking a turn for the melancholic is Holland Road, with its focus on Mumford's vocals, backed by a softly played piano chord progression. The emotions the song evokes a gut-wrenching sorrow as he sings and appeals for someone to give him strength, made all the more intense with the blaring horns, "When I'm on my knees I'll still believe/ and when I've hit the ground, / neither lost nor found/ if you believe in me I'll still believe". Reminder also takes the listener on a literal journey, as vulnerability taints Mumford's vocals - a little hoarse on this song I thought, but works in his favour. Also, it ended too soon and too abruptly for me to actually appreciate it for what it really was.
Lover of the Light is a ballad that is surprising in its melodic twists and turns, and the best part of the song is that banjo riff that plays on repeat 3 and a half minutes into the song with the muted drums and horns as accompaniment. Broken Crown is an intriguing affair, with most of the song sung in minor, angsty tones. Also heavy on the banjo and drums, this could probably be my favorite off the album, just because it's so unlike them, and spitting the only expletive in the song out with such vigor also gains a plus point.
I'm really growing to love this album, and knowing that they are so near yet so far (they are playing in Melbourne in October), I am gutted that this is what I'll be missing. Mumford & Sons definitely know how to entertain the listener with their lilting tunes and neo-folk beats and no doubt they'll be even more affective live. Sigh…No More! I shall rest my weary soul to Babel tonight.
Track Cuts: Broken Crown, I Will Wait, Lover of the Light, Holland Road