not a member? click here to sign up
Mumford & Sons: Babel
Impressive step forward for family concern
Ed Power, 02 Oct 2012
Everything’s changed for Mumford and Sons since their 2009 debut, Sigh No More. The scale of that record’s success could scarcely have been anticipated by anyone in the business, the waist-coated aristos going on to shift 2.3 million units, tour America successfully by rail car and be inducted into the rock’n’roll A-list: Adele was entertainer for the evening when frontman Marcus Mumfords got hitched to Oscar-nominee Carey Mulligan in April; guests included Jude Law and Jake Gyllenhaal. But listening to Babel, again produced by Arcade Fire man Markus Dravs, you’d hardly twig that their world had been upended so profoundly.
They have, as Alan Partridge would say, ‘evolved rather than revolved’, which in this instance is cause for celebration: with its banjos set to stun and blokey chorus ‘Whispers In The Dark’ is a moody big brother to ‘Little Lion Man’; the spiritual infusions that were a feature of their first record are again apparent on single ‘I Will Wait’, a song that strains quite explicitly for a quasi religious ecstasy. Again, there is nothing surprising in this: Marcus Mumford’s parents are the leaders of a fringe Christian group the Vineyard Church and, while he doesn’t advertise the fact, he is on record as a believer. ‘Ghosts That We Knew’ and ‘Home’ have a wonderfully Glen Hansard-esque directness and evident sincerity – a quality which is at the core of the band’s appeal.
Nowhere on Babel do Mumford and Sons stray far from the script. Whether this is down to an innate conservatism or a finely-honed knack for giving their fanbase exactly what it wants remains to be seen. In the meantime, Babel is one of those second records that sets out to sound like its predecessor, only better. An unqualified success.