Sunday, 28 July 2013

Mumford and Sons - Babel

Mumford and Sons have got very, very popular in the last 6 years so I decided to give their latest offering, Babel, a checkout to see what all the fuss is about as you don't sell over 200,000 albums without something going for you. Of a formula, which appears to be what these guys have.

If you like jingle and/or jangle in your banjo music with a smooth acoustic guitar backing then you will love this album, because every single track has it in spades. It's a pleasantly upbeat sounds that is easy on the ears (helped by the amazing clarity of the mix and the production) and seems precision aimed at getting your feet tapping along, as proven by them being a hit on the festival circuit. It's their core sounds (sometimes mixed up with a piano or a violin) and they like it enough to put on in every tune but it also means that there are no standout numbers on the album as they all just roll into one another and end up being rather 'sound-alike'. I had hoped for more variation, more experimentation, but its not there in any meaningful fashion which resulted in the album becoming a pleasant washover. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't expecting a psychodelic freakout or a death metal track at the back of the album. It was just that even on the slow tracks there was an inevitable 'and now for the bounce along bit in the same rhythm as the last 5 songs'. As I said though, very foot tapping and very easy to get into (until the point around the last 3/4 of the album when it just got comfortable my ears stopped bothering to listen) so I get why so many people are all for it as it is going to offend no-ones sensibilities due to never challenging you in any way.

So that was the music, but what about the lyrics? Afraid to say that it's very much the same, just with more 'fill in the gaps' nothingness. The singing is strong, of that there is no denying, but once you get beyond the rousing chorus it is a collection of vague pronouncements on the general theme of lost love, being miserable and then managing to be strong again. Standard stuff, however it never feels like it gets personal enough to really feel anything. There is no sense of it ever actually having happening, so it becomes a colouring in book of generalised emotions: easy to feel connected to because these are 'anybody' stories but never giving you anything to really latch onto. There are also some lyrical wonders like "I came home like a stone" and a song about tearing down walls that is called Babel. Profound stuff, until you actually think about it.

It is, sadly, all a much of a blandness. This is 'authentic music' for people who can't be bothered with putting any real emotion into their listening time, bubblegum folk with a nostalgic singalong section that's been scientifically designed to never bring you down with a true feeling. If it does move you then I would have to ask 'why?' as I am quite sure you won't be able to give me a specific other than it sounds kind of fun and has a nice chorus, or giving me some tosh about how its 'real music' or some other retro-folkie bollocks. This is an Asda of folk music dressed up as a family corner shop, nothing more and nothing less.
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