When I heard last week that Mumford & Sons were releasing a new album I have to admit doing a little jig of happiness. I loved ‘Sigh No More’ and ‘Babel’, with tracks regularly making up parts of my favourite playlists. After the recent rumours of the possibility of Marcus Mumford, Ben Lovett, Winston Marshall and Ted Dwayne going their separate ways, the announcement of a mini-festival and now a new album has certainly filled me with hope for more from this amazing group of artists.
Listening to excerpts of the band’s interview with the BBC’s Fearne Cotton, I will admit to some concerns. Any band approaching its 3rd Album presents challenges and Mumford & Sons have attacked this evolutionary adventure with a change in sound. Banished are the banjo and accordion in favour of a more electric sound, and as a fan I’m not sure that it was the right call.
Having had the chance to listen to a few of the songs off of ‘Wilder Mind’ I think the step away from their hallmark acoustic may be a mistake. Let me be clear, this is not a bad album, not by any means. The songs are full of passion, and the band are as tight as ever; but the draw, for me; the thing that has set Mumford & Sons apart from the crowd has been their original sound. As part of a modern folk revival, along with artists like Seth Lakeman and Bellowhead, the roaring, soaring acoustic sound REALLY set the band apart from the crowd of indie rock. By comparison the new album, while likely to do very well, with its catchy choruses and rocky sound, seems to be a step backward into the mainstream. The sound is familiar, warm, popular and could be from the Kings of Leon or any number of indie stalwarts.
Am I going to buy the full album? Probably, it’s a good album, although Believe makes me worry that there may be a certain amount of filler, a dangerous move in the age of digital download.
Overall, good but below what I’d expect from a band This good.