‘Babel’ release deserves Billboard spot
Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 4, 2012 00:10
London-based band Mumford & Sons saw its newest album, Babel, open at No. 1 on the Billboard charts this week.
After spending 2011 in a tornado of publicity and fame that arose from the release of its first album “Sigh No More,” Babel looks like it may follow a similar path to the band’s freshman debut. With its
alternative folk-rock influence led by singer and guitarist Marcus Mumford, “Sigh No More” was off to a slow start before the band was nominated for 6 Grammy Awards.
Now, with Babel outselling both Green Day and Justin Bieber, Mumford & Sons are off to a faster start.
While “Sigh No More” will remain a work of musical ingenuity, Babel offers a more mature and grown-up sound. The band maintains its originality, but instead of the harsh, cutting lyrics and a capella in songs like “Little Lion Man,” the tracks on Babel are gentler in instrumental and more reflective in lyrics.
“Babel,” the first and title track, begins with a flourish of deft string instrumentation and Mumford’s trademark growl, then allows for a gentle segway into reflection with quieter music and humble lyrics. Mumford becomes subdued, and his words, “I should have known I was weaker from the start; you’ll build your walls and I will play my bloody part to tear them down,” expose a more human side of the band.
But it’s not until the second track, “Whispers in the Dark,” when the listener truly gets a sense of Mumford’s versatility as an artist and the band’s adaptability to slower songs that are almost romantic in nature.
“I Will Wait” is Babel’s first single, and it marries both the old Mumford & Sons with the new, with softer interludes intercepted by “Country” Winston Marshall’s trademark banjo. Though not the best song on Babel, it demonstrates the band’s expertise in both strings and lyrics, owing much to Marshall’s skilled banjo playing.
Next up is “Holland Road,” a tender song that further serves to expose the band’s versatility and Mumford’s newfound humility.
Babel continues in this vein for the majority of the album’s tracks. “Ghosts That We Knew” is the song that breaks completely from Mumford & Son’s traditional use of loud strings, opting instead for a single instrument at the beginning of the song coupled with lyrical harmonization. The same is true of the tracks “Lover’s Eyes” and “Reminder,” as both songs are mellow and haunting.
Mumford & Sons manage to prove it has not completely departed from its original rage — only toned it down some — with the tracks “Hopeless Wanderer” and the dazzlingly wonderful “Broken Crown,” which calls to mind the righteous and youthful indignation heard in “Sigh No More.” The same is true for “Lover of the Light,” a fun, uplifting song that exposes Mumford & Sons’ sense of humor.
To listen to the song "I Will Wait" off of the Mumford & Sons new album, click here.