Mumford and Sons: Babel
by Liz Palmer
As we stood in the music and movie section of Wal-Mart waiting for Mumford & Sons’ new album, “Babel,” to release at midnight, I could not help but be overjoyed. As we stared at an employee as if she were a batch of homemade cookies, she nervously began to open boxes of new merchandise asking us what we came for. Lady, we came for Mumford.
When asked to write a review for this CD, I honestly just wanted to put, “If you have never heard them before, go buy both albums and learn to understand what decent music is.” In the end, I figured that was a bit unfair and demanding, so here goes.
For new listeners, Mumford’s sound is generally folk-rock with a strong influence from bluegrass instrumentation, Americana with a London accent. Their songwriting is steeped in literary tradition, pulling references from Shakespeare, Plato and Steinbeck especially in their album “Sigh No More.” On top of that, their lyrics are just strong in general pulling at the heart strings of human emotion. This is something that can be seen across the board in both of their albums.
“Babel” is much like “Sigh No More” in the sense of its sound. Although their band does not have a full drum kit, their sound is incredibly powerful. If you are unsure of this, just start with track one, “Babel”, and be corrected. Along with this, they definitely make good use of each instrument in their band. From guitar to banjo to mandolin to piano to stand up bass–this band, especially in this new album, highlights the wonders of each instrument all the while still being able to sing harmoniously together.
Although their sound is much the same, new lyrics bring listeners back for more. Something Mumford & Sons has always been able to do well is inspiring people to feel. Yes, that sounds odd, but their lyrics are able to tell heartfelt individual stories that invite the audience to share the band’s feelings. Overall, the whole album covers a wide range of emotion but leaves listeners feeling refreshed, and at least for me, inspired. I say this because they are my favorite band to paint to, but I am biased.
I close this review thinking back to the night I bought this album. After my friends and I had purchased three copies of deluxe edition of this album (And believe me, those three extra tracks are worth all your pennies), we lay in the parking lot of Gamma Townhouse and listened to it. Everything about that moment was perfect. Maybe it was the people I was with; maybe it is the fact I am a sucker for stringed instruments, but I still believe it is because this band is just that worthwhile.
Go buy Babel and let it make your night as well.