In-depth review of Mumford and Sons’s second studio album.
It has been three painstakingly long years since folk-quartet Mumford & Sons released their hugely successful debut album, Sigh No More, which earned them two Grammy nominations, sold 5m copies and went double-platinum.
The release of Babel, their second studio effort, rides on the coattails of Sigh No More. As predicted, Mumford & Sons have stuck to their ‘winning formula’, which includes seemingly endless banjo plucking teamed with lead-singer Marcus Mumford’s rich-as-whisky vocals. On top of this, there is some of the most astounding song writing that I have heard in a long time. The band were intent on following in the footsteps of Sigh No More by re-enlisting producer Markus Dravs, who has worked with high-profile artists, including Arcade Fire, Coldplay and Bjork.
The Mumford & Sons boys have evolved into into gentlemen, and this is reflected in the album. In some ways Babel is like the older, more mature sibling of Sigh No More. It is more powerful and sophisticated than its predecessor; the sound is far richer and it possesses a sincerity and wisdom which can only come from the three years of experience since their debut. Marcus has a new-found confidence which can be heard through his shamelessly tenacious, yet somehow whimsical vocals on the album.
Babel is a powerhouse, however it also feels like a storybook; the songs flow into each other and you can tell that they were carefully compiled. Highlights on the album include the opening title track, which feels like it was almost built-on-purpose to be played late on a summer evening on Glastonbury’s main stage. It is an epic monster of a song with biblical references and soul-shattering vocals courtesy of Marcus. Another standout track is the highly evocative Lover’s Eyes, which tells the tale of a heart-wrenchingly tragic romance. My personal favourite is, without doubt, Lover of the Light, a toe-tapping extravaganza, and with its gigantic chorus, horns and uplifting lyrics, it comes as no surprise that this is already adored live.
“As a band, we’ve never been closer”
Speaking about the album, the band saidon their official website: “We are more than excited to release Babel into the world. We had started writing new songs well before we got into the studio to record. At first, we peeled ourselves off the road quite reluctantly. We love playing live, obviously, but it had also become an important part of our creative process, we had been writing and rehearsing in soundchecks, and sort of ‘roadtesting’ new songs on our very gracious audiences.
“As a band, we’ve never been closer or more collaborative, all working to our strengths. And so we feel that this record is a natural progression that we’re proud of, and we cannot wait to take it out on the road.”
Mumford & Sons have skyrocketed into success and Babel solidifies the band’s legacy as incredible musicians. In the words of Shakespeare: “If music be the food of love, play on.”
Babel has already become the fastest-selling album of the year in the USA.