Faceoff: Album Review - Babel

Mumford & Sons formed in 2007 and have grown in popularity, especially throughout 2010. Media outlets describe the band’s gained recognition within the “West London folk scene.”

The foursome consisting of Marcus Mumford, “Country” Winston Marshall, Ben Lovett and Ted Dwane continue this tone with the release of sophomore studio album, Babel.

When the time came to record Babel, the four members were faced with the decision “to shy away from [the sound that provided them great success] or to realize that people dig what [they’re] doing and make something robust, with that energy,” Lovett said.

Mumford & Sons made the right decision by providing their fans the distinct energy-filled music that marks them as Mumford & Sons. “I Will Wait” is the immediate crowd-pleaser with full energy, especially in the hook. A similar drive appears in the sixth track “Lover of the Light” as Mumford howls acknowledgments to his recent marriage – “to have and to hold” – alongside rollicking drums, banjo and horns.

Although “Hopeless Wanderer” opens with a soft piano introduction – distinct from the usual banjo, bass and acoustic guitar – it is arguably the liveliest song on the album due to a climax leading to a catchy bridge and strong percussion elements, including tambourine.

Even on quieter tracks there is still the incredible vigor that the band is so well known for with additional heavy emotions. On “Ghosts That We Knew,” one of the album’s highlights, Mumford sings of angst, while “Lovers’ Eyes” provokes the complicated emotions of love.

This isn’t new for Mumford & Sons, who alluded to depressing emotions in their debut album, Sigh No More. In the third track, “Winter Winds,” which is surprisingly one of the cheerier songs, Mumford smoothly sings, “And no hope, no hope will overcome.”

Despite the sad tone of some tracks, there are others that provide the complete opposite effect: inspiration.

Mumford murmurs, “And there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears. And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears” in Sigh No More’s “After the Storm.” Babel’s “Holland Road” emulates similar promise: “But I will hold as long as you like/Just promise me we’ll be alright.”

Babel provides another set of tracks that show off the essentials of Mumford & Sons: core folk instrumentation and powerful lyrics. Babel wasn’t meant to revolutionize Mumford & Sons. Instead, Babel provides familiarity and comfort with a fresh feel. It’s not the best music ever written, but it’s more from the band and Babel is far from disappointing.

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