Mumford & Sons: Wilder Mind

Posted May 13, 2015 by in Indie rock



4.5/ 5


Genre: ,
Label: ,
Genre: Indie rock, rock
Producer: James Ford
Label: Glassnote, Island
Format: Digital download, compact disc, streaming, vinyl
Time: 47:35
Release Date: 4 May 2015
Spin This: "Believe," "The Wolf," Tompkins Square Park,"


So many new shades and colors


Complete abandonment of the driving force behind Babel and Sigh No More

New sound invades Americana band’s third album, and it’s for the better

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

New sound invades Americana UK band’s third album, and it’s for the better

The banjo-possessed Americana style of Mumford & Sons’ first two albums (Sigh No More, Babel) has been, for the most part, insurmountable to pop culture. That formula was embedded into the fabric of second-tier apprentices (Lumineers) and even crossed into sections of EDM (Avicii), but it seems to have taken a backseat on the band’s third album. Sounds like scary business for those expecting more of the same from the bluegrass-loving UK act, but the Grammy-winning Babel – still a decent, palatable offering – may have been way too much for some.  As well received as it was, Babel showcased a very derivative sound that recycled even more of the same from their well-received debut.

Now the band is confidently exploring newer colors and shades of rock, even New Wave and some Kings of Leon grit. The band also solicits James Ford (Arctic Monkeys, Florence + the Machine ) as album producer, departing the longstanding work of Markus Dravs. Where the inspiration behind this all-of-a-sudden shift is still a bit unclear, but like Taylor Swift’s sound adjustment on 1989, the band leads off the album with an ode to New York City – a smart, acceptable and proven destination for creative ingenuity.  Named after the NYC park, “Tompkins Square Park” flows like The War on Drugs as frontman Marcus Mumford leads an underlying salvo to the musical shift: “But no flame burns forever.”

Underneath the new layers of guitar riffing and drum pounding still lies the folk-heavy composition skill they’ve pranced around. You can still sense remnants of it in when Marcus Mumford closes some of his lyrical lines, opting to drop his light-gravel singing for Bob Dylan sing-speak. Listen closely to how “Ditmas” is constructed or the foundations of “Believe,” a song that sounds like “I Will Wait” dropped in a vat of Roxy Music. You can still sense their folk pride, but at the heart of this album is the band’s deliberate need to add sensation and ambient hues to the mix. They escalate their rustic Appalachian instrumentation of yore into a cloudburst of Strokes-esque electric guitar and canvas-sweeping synths. Even if “Believe” sounds familiar to M&S’ listeners, the guitar wails and bombastic drums show off an aggression that allows the background to properly mirror the same ascension heard in Marcus Mumford’s passionate belting.

This new level of adventure for Mumford & Sons also comes with a greater sense of urgency. “The Wolf” is pretty poignant in its lavish escapism into Eighties rock. Then the title track drops into a valley of dreamy MOR pop-rock majesty. And there’s more colors to the album’s rainbow: “Just Smoke” flickers like a Curtis Mayfield-Sixties gem done with a touch of indie rock magic; “Only Love” shows off the band’s rock mojo as they play with a prevailing Foo Fighters fire once it reaches the halfway mark. And by deliberately breaking the predicable cycle of before, they uncover an album that entertains and mesmerizes with every passing chapter.

When Mumford & Sons started to get really predictable to the ear of the masses was when a shakeup was considered necessary. The band must have taken note, and have properly adapted new flavors into their diet on Wilder Mind. It’s a strategically smart choice of evolution, one that bolsters a type of burly maturity that conventional rock revelers will pick up. It’s never exactly been an easy task suggesting Mumford & Sons to Bruce Springsteen stans, but this album will make the campaign more feasible.

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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