Mumford & Sons
Mumford & Sons (photo by James Minchin III)
Mumford & Sons
Since arriving on the scene seven years ago, the British folk rock quartet Mumford & Sons has enjoyed enormous success with their unique brand of Americana-influenced indie rock. Emphasizing acoustic instrumentation in favor of electric—with the banjo as a central instrument—the band’s first two studio albums, 2009’s Sigh No More and 2012’s Babel, became worldwide smash hits, winning Grammys and Brit Awards and achieving multi-platinum sales in the States alone. But despite the band’s far-reaching accolades, the quartet took a very different approach for their third studio album, Wilder Mind.
From the first electric guitar notes of “Tompkins Square Park,” it is obvious that the band—front man and guitarist Marcus Mumford, bassist Ted Dwane, keyboardist Ben Lovett and guitarist Winston Marshall—has found some new toys to play with while recording. Although they’ve approached their latest material from a fresh angle, Wilder Mind’s tracks are still cut from a similar cloth as those on their earlier efforts. Mumford & Sons has always written songs that lean towards arena rock grandeur, but in the past, they channeled them in an unplugged way. Now armed with electric guitars, the tougher textures and journeys found on Wilder Mind shake the band—and its fans—out of an accustomed comfort zone.
Harder-rocking cuts like “The Wolf” sit confidently next to older Mumford tunes like Babel’s “Lover Of The Light” or Sigh No More’s “Little Lion Man.” Heavier new songs like “Ditmas” and the driving “Believe” are balanced with more thoughtful moments on this record, like the slow burning “Monster,” the galloping, atmospheric “Snake Eyes” and the ballad “Cold Arms.”
Mumford & Sons worked on the new songs in the Brooklyn studio of the National’s Aaron Dessner and turned to producer James Ford (Arctic Monkeys, Florence and the Machine) to guide the recording sessions.
Mumford & Sons aren’t strangers to electric instrumentation and they never intended to be locked in as an acoustic-based, folk-influenced outfit. As a result, the new album isn’t really as out of left field as it may appear. One concern might be that Mumford & Sons may have compromised their trademark sound, blurring the lines that separated them from indie-rockers like the National and Kings of Leon.
However, this updated Mumford & Sons reveals a band that can no longer be neatly placed in any one category; hearing Wilder Mind with an open mind helps unlock the many strengths of this still-evolving young band, restlessly looking ahead to the future.
Preview songs and/or buy 'em (all purchases benefit WFUV):