Review: Mumford & Sons, Babel

The return of Mumford & Sons has been hotly anticipated since 2009’s Sigh No More, which was a worldwide smash and has seen the band tour the world. Something rarely seen of a folk group. Babel is the name of the album that follows this world beating selection of songs and, if they’re looking to make a quick buck off the tried and tested sound of their first album they’re going the right way about it.

Strangely the majority of these tracks have been in existence for a long time as the band have taken the unorthodox method of writing and performing new tracks while touring. This is a good way to find out how your audience will react to new material before you’ve spent thousands recording them only to find you have a flop on your hands. The drawback with this is, however, that Mumford & Sons have been writing material that fits in to their set alongside crowd pleasers from the first album, meaning that they are essentially re-hashing the same sound for a partisan audience.

That said, the sound they produce is hardly terrible and Babel has it’s fair share of quality songs; Lover Of The Light and I Will Wait being rowdy singles, Broken Crown is by far and away the standout track on the album though as it incorporates piano and brass instruments effectively. The way they construct songs that rise from near silence to room-shakingly loud is one of their strong suits and there is a lot of playing around with tone and pitch, light and shade on this album.  But this isn’t enough when you aren’t moving forward with your songwriting and a lot of the writing on here feels lazy.

Listened to without knowledge of Sigh No More, Babel would be a great album. But the fact that it sounds so much like a continuation of the former, the impact of the latter is undermined to just a solid piece of work by a band that haven’t rested in three years. hopefully there will be better from them in the future, but for now we’ll just have to put up with what sounds like a double album. Disappointing.

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