Laura Martin ’14 / Emertainment Monthly Editor
Mumford and Sons released their new album Babel in the US on September 24 and one thing is for sure: it could not have come any sooner. Pre-orders for the album brought it to number one on iTunes as early as mid-August according to Rolling Stone. As if this did not promise the album enough success, its first single “I Will Wait” gained quick popularity making its debut at number four on the digital songs chart and number three on iTunes, selling 153,000 copies. But this is, of course, all outdated news, as the long-anticipated album has finally been released.
The first few tracks, beginning with “Babel,” followed by “Whispers in the Dark,” and succeeded by the already familiar “I Will Wait” are upbeat, relentlessly rhythmic, and plain revolutionary. Marcus Mumford reminds us that he can belt and belt beautifully. We can’t help but listen, as if we were not already drawn in and begging for more after their first album release in 2009 with Sigh No More. But just as the group’s first album served us up a balance of both melodic heart-wrenchers (“After the Storm” and “Awake My Soul”) and bitter lyrics masked by catchy, distinct intros (“The Cave” and “Little Lion Man”), Babel does not leave us hanging. The album mellows out just a bit after “I Will Wait” with tracks like “Ghosts That We Knew,” “Lovers’ Eyes,” and “Reminder” only to pick back up again with “Hopeless Wanderer” or “Not With Haste.” Each song is just as the fans would have it: long, packed with a punch or a long-suppressed emotion, or a journey we may have traveled ourselves.
The album as a whole crescendos and soars, makes pit stops to the ground just to pick back up again, reminding you to only rest briefly. Some might say Mumford and Sons maintains a distinct sound, an unyielding consistency which holds steady throughout both Sigh No More and Babel. It is true, you will likely never wonder whether you are listening to Mumford and Sons: if you think it’s them, it probably is. But does consistency necessarily yield a lack of quality? They seem to vary the sound slightly and draw on separate emotions to shuffle the composition, but all the while remaining true to a single intent. One thing Babel gives us that Sigh No More perhaps did not is a variety in feeling. Though we could resonate with the words of “Timshel” or “Dust Bowl Dance” off of Sigh No More, the hopelessness is muted a bit. Babel makes us feel strength with “Babel,” hope from “Ghosts That We Knew” and reckless abandonment with “Hopeless Wanderer.” Mumford and Sons is spreading their wings and broadening their emotional horizons, if anything.
And the brief flight thus far has proved promising. From the first Mumford and Sons’ single “I Will Wait” that soothes with a constant banjo, listeners can always rely on from the group but never tire of. The band can be sure that once Babel has had its run, though it is sure to be lengthy, fans could wait forever for their next installment.
Give it a listen: If you were impressed by Sigh No More or are looking for a folk rock sound with a unique twist of banjo.
Don’t give it a listen: If you’re crazy. Kidding. If the indie rock scene isn’t quite your style or you’re looking for something a bit heavier.