Album Review: Mumford & Sons

picture by flickr user p_a_h
By Laura Fouquette

After unbelievable success with their debut 2009 album Sigh No More, British folk rock band Mumford & Sons are back at it again with the release of their new album entitled Babel out September 25th in the U.S.  Mumford & Sons’ popularity was slow-burning and hard-won, as Sigh No More reached second on the American charts two years after the album release.  However, this time around, Babel debuted at number one on both the UK Album Chart and the U.S. Billboard 200.

The standout lead single “I Will Wait” enticed fans in August with the signature Mumford & Sons sound—a “Little Lion Man”-esque hard-hitting track verging on despair with a certain rock to it.  Although the majority of songs compiling the new album are less differentiable individually, Babel is a stronger album cohesively, displaying a greater degree of maturity of the band.  The instrumental set up is essentially the same, with minimal drums or electric guitar, plenty of banjo and mandolin, and a bit more piano than the previous album.  Every now and then, you can just hear a Coldplay-esque synth/ organ in an especially emotional peak.

Personal favorites from the album include “Lover’s Eyes,” “Where Are You Now,” “Below My Feet,” and “Holland Road.”  The band is continually influenced in their song writing by literature, with the poetically frequent use of allegories and vague humanitarian references to salvation and faith.  There are many references to Jesus and common Christian values, such as in “Below My Feet,” Marcus Mumford, the band’s lead singer, repeatedly calls out “keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn.”  The album name is thought to have come from the Tower of Babel at the beginning of the Bible, in which all of the people of Earth built a large tower as a stairway to heaven.  God breaks down the tower because he knows that will only bring the people away from God.  Many fans think this tower is a metaphor for the band’s tidal wave of fame and how that is straying them away from the things that used to be the most important in their lives.  For these reasons, many assume the band is Christian, but in countless interviews the band insists that these references are in relation to humanity in general, rather than one specific religion.

Babel still holds the coveted spot at number two on the iTunes albums chart for more than three weeks after its release.  During their brief success in the United States, the band many call “multimillion selling troubadours” has opened the door and created the market for similar folk rock bands, such as The Lumineers and Dawes, to successfully sell music on the conventional music scene.  Mumford & Sons is coming to the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on their world tour on November 10th, their only tour date in the states this year, and tickets for it sold out in ten minutes.