Mumford & Sons: Babel – review

(Island)

There's a phrase, midway through Mumford & Sons' second album, that neatly encapsulates their existence. "Watch the world tear us apart," Marcus Mumford sing-speaks in his tarry voice, "a stoic mind and a bleeding heart." They are the epitome of a Marmite band: vilified for their privileged background and narrow vision of folk music; celebrated for their spit'n'sawdust energy and biblical framing of love. Babel will only entrench these positions: essentially it's a honing of their 2009 debut, Sigh No More, but with more of the ferocity you encounter in their live show. Cue lots of vigorous stomping, portentous orchestration in Broken Crown, and an unwelcome blast of folk-metal in Below My Feet; and a concomitant dearth of nuance. Gently rippling melodies are all too quickly trampled by strident guitars and Winston Marshall's clanging banjo, while the crackle in Mumford's voice, especially in the subdued bits of Ghosts That We Knew and Lover of the Light, would be more affecting if he sounded less declamatory.

Contributor

Maddy Costa

The GuardianTramp

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