Review: Mumford & Sons - Babel
In many ways, it's a sad fact that they cannot pass this undying sense of blandness because right from the crashing opening of the album's title track you can tell that this is loaded with ambition. Mumford wails "I cry Babel, Babel, look at me now, the walls of my town they come crumbling down!" in such a scathing tone that a sense of passion and belief is most definitely there in all he does and the attempt to make big poppy hooks armed only with traditional folk instruments and a sprinkling of bass guitar is done to the best of the band's ability, but the full impact that many of their alt rock contemporaries (No, not Two Door Cinema Club or The Vaccines) could make just isn't there.
This is pretty much the ultimate feeling across the album, whether it's the more upbeat natures of the title track, the Little Lion Man clone that is lead single I Will Wait and the surprising amount of adrenaline packed riffs that come out on Hopeless Wanderer.
It's also the same feeling that comes out in the album's more delicate moments. From the weeping balladry of Ghosts That We Used to Know and Broken Crown there's simply an array of overtly simple folk work that one just cannot find engaging in any form. It's a shame, it certainly feels like something you should like because lyrics like "So lead me back/ Turn me south from that place/ And close my eyes from my recent disgrace" can't have been the kind of lyrics to roll straight off the tongue. They quite clearly took a lot of thought and difficult passion. And to see Mumford's lyrics have such bland uninspired music accompanying it sounds like Mumford's received the raw end of some kind of deal.
The final reflection one has upon listening to Babel is that I can't help but feel sorry for Mumford & Sons in some way. They try so hard to write the perfect song but if all the effort is put into the lyrics and second to none put into the music, then it's always going to come off as bland. And that's exactly the problem this album suffers. There's nothing engaging within the way the band plays because the constant burst of banjos that they've chosen to rely on isn't so much fun as it is repetitive. I know many people will make some kind of claim that it's actually all about the lyrics rather than the music and I will agree that the lyrics are highly engaging, but if it's all about the lyrics, maybe Marcus Mumford could look to poetry as an option. He'd gain much respect and school pupils could write essays on his work. But then, he wouldn't be selling out The Caird Hall with a job like that so, fair play to Mumford & Sons for being another one of those successful bands that make me look like a jealous loser when I write about how I dislike them.
Mumford & Sons' Babel is out now via Universal Island Records. The band will tour the UK from November-December.