It is not often that the revival of a genre can be attributed to one band alone. However, it is more than arguable that with their debut Sigh No More Mumford and Sons achieved just that for folk. In their dapper finery, the quartet brought the relevance of a banjo as a musical instrument to a mainstream audience.
Following their unprecedented success, a worldwide tour followed and great anticipation for what could be expected of their next offering. This fall, three years on from their remarkable initial success, Babel has landed. So is it any good?
Whereas every track on ‘Sigh No More’, most notably ‘Little Lion Man’, ‘The Cave’ and ‘Winter Winds’ could be considered instant classics, even the lead single of Babel, the triumphant ‘ I will wait for you’ doesn’t offer the same joy, or indicate a destiny of musical greatness. Listening to such tracks as ‘Holland Road’ and ‘Ghosts that we Knew’ – it’s inescapable, nothing jumps out at you. The same brutal honesty and raw emotion is evident in such tracks as ‘Liar’ and ‘Lover of the light’ that endeared Mumford to their fan base, but there is no real development it seems. Why is this?
The main problem it would seem is, as they have confessed, most of the tracks on the album were written a very long time ago whilst touring, and in 2012, being sold as new material, it doesn’t quite feel right. It’s perfectly acceptable for bands to spend a prolonged time perfecting their album before releasing it, especially when it is that dreaded second collection, but I believe Mumford have waited too long (ironic, when you consider the title of their lead single).
There is something to be said for a band showing continuity in the material they produce, but Babel’s tracks could all easily serve as additions to Sigh No More. I do not think any Mumford fan will be disappointed that we now have more material. Mumford have not offered a bad second album, but it is not anything new, and this in my opinion, is a great shame.
By Deborah Widdick