Mumford & Sons

TrackAlbum
After the StormSigh No More
Awake My SoulSigh No More
Below My FeetBabel
Broken CrownBabel
The CaveSigh No More
Hopeless WandererBabel
I Gave You AllSigh No More
Little Lion ManSigh No More
Thistle & WeedsSigh No More
White Blank PageSigh No More

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Contributor: Hannah Ashleigh

I found it really hard to choose 10 songs as I love them all, but I find I listen to this selection the most.

Mumford & Sons are just as incredible live as they are in a studio. When I saw them perform over the summer at the Olympic Park, I was mesmerised and shocked myself by how many of the words I knew.

I’d definitely recommend giving them a listen, even if it is not to your taste you just might surprise yourself. For those who do love Mumford & Sons and have not seen them live, you need to see them ASAP!

Mumford & Sons website

Mumford & Sons biography (iTunes)

Hannah makes her selection at a time when the band has just two studio albums to its name, so rather than commenting on her choice, if you’ve seen Mumford & Sons perform (and I have, ed.), did they have the same effect on you as they did on our contributor? The reviewers have certainly had a field day. Whether it’s Kevin Perry writing in NME: “What Mumford & Sons do, with ruthless efficiency, is write surging singalong anthems for fairweather festival-goers. As any number of jealous songwriters will attest, that isn’t anywhere near as easy as they make it look.” Or, Neil McCormick in the Telegraph: “I doubt anyone would have believed that five decades on, in a new century, the most popular young band in the land would be a bunch of well spoken folk revivalists armed with acoustic guitars.” John Aizlewood in the Standard: “For all the cacophony of sneering based on the inverse snobbery that condemns them for being posh Brits aspiring to be faux hobos (had punk barred the privately educated, Joe Strummer would never have led The Clash), Mumford & Sons have quietly become a global sensation.” Not going to reprint the more extreme “reviews” here, you can find them easily enough on the net, but there is a debate going on. Happy to continue it here but the moderator would prefer moderation!

TopperPost #105

7 Comments

  1. Mat Baker
    Oct 25, 2013

    No, not seen them live, but I know people who have, and the plaudits have rained down. I can understand it – they have a penchant for catchy melodies, but it is more than that, there is a depth to their music that much modern music lacks.

    However, even at this early stage of their career, I think they have reached a crossroads. The second album was very similar to the first one, and I am not sure how long they will get away with this. It was pleasant enough, but not an album that has much longevity, in my opinion.

    I know this is a familiar refrain with many a band, and they have built up a big enough following to keep releasing similar material and sell well – but will they?

    Am I being churlish? In an age of plastic, manufactured music, isn’t it enough that a folk band who are proper musicians are succeeding?

    • Hannah Ashleigh
      Oct 26, 2013

      I agree that their two albums are similar. This makes me wonder if they may go down a different route for their third album. If I am honest I would be devastated if they do that.

      I love their material and believe that they should stick with it regardless of it sounding the same.

      • Mat Baker
        Oct 27, 2013

        Hannah, I have to say that I can’t understand how you can dismiss a new direction (albeit a very speculative one!) without actually hearing it. To me, part of the joy of music is watching an artist evolve and develop, and I get very frustrated when they stick to the safe option.

        Mumford & Sons are talented musicians, and there is no reason why they couldn’t alter their style. That is not to say that they will, or even should – there is no correct answer here. But should they veer off, it is altogether possible that you will enjoy a different sound and even find it more satisfying.

        Look at Blur and Oasis. The Gallaghers stuck to a tried and tested formula, but this led to their albums all becoming much of a muchness. In years to come, no-one will be talking about their third album, or any subsequent material. You can’t say the same for Blur, and that is why they will always be thought of as being in a different league…

  2. Peter Viney
    Oct 25, 2013

    I’ve been amazed at how Mumford & Sons polarize views. Like any hugely successful band, the nay-sayers are inevitably going to appear. Big sales and packed concerts draw the moaners like flies round an open pot of jam. Among Americana fans, it’s love them or hate them. But on the positive side, their contemporary musicians love them. Check out the Portland, Maine “superjam” on The Weight with Simone Felice and Simi Stone joining them. There are several up, all smartphone quality unfortunately.

    My issue with Babel is that I can listen to any one or two tracks with great enjoyment, but listening to the whole album in sequence, they use arcs or trajectories of the songs in the same way just about every time, meaning that you can predict where they’re going and where they’re going to end. It’s the inevitable switch from soft folky bits with one instrument followed by flat out powerful vocal with fast anthemic stuff and everyone playing. It’s all set out on “Babel” (title track). Prog bands do it. U2 do it. The difference is that in prog after the quiet bit, you suddenly get big stereo drums and then screaming guitar. With Mumford & Sons you get the switch to the fast banjo / mandolin picking sound. There is another difference is they sometimes start with the fast bit and switch (I Will Wait).

    Great tunes. Great energy. I especially like Holland Road, but it’s there again, you know what they’re going to do. I accept that their constituency doesn’t live in an era when people play albums end to end. I do. So it’s with great trepidation that I criticize the most successful band in a favourite musical area, but I hope they have a third album producer who says, ‘No! You keep building the songs that way. Do it differently this time.’ Definitely time for a new strong-willed opinionated and experienced producer. I hear more U2 than “folk” in their work.

    A Toppermost vote for Reminder. It’s only two minutes. You sit through waiting for the switch and it never comes!

    There are a lot of live covers around. Mumford & Sons own website has a Babel deluxe set with bonus tracks (including The Boxer) and two NTSC DVDs. Haven’t heard them.

    • Hannah Ashleigh
      Oct 26, 2013

      I am also one to listen to an album from start to finish. I can understand how the music may sound the same, however it is the lyrics that I am a fan of. The music for me is a bonus.

      I find their lyrics are incredible and have so much power and meaning to them. It’s hard to find modern music with such deep lyrics. I am a younger audience on here and find my friends listen to everything in the charts, therefore when in the car with them I do too. The lyrics to most of the songs in the charts are all about the same thing. I find Mumford & Sons to be different in that way, they sing metaphorically which I think you do not hear so much in modern music but more in older music.

      However, I do agree their music can be predictable, and one of my friends said, “How can you tell which song it is? They all sound the same.”

  3. Ian Ashleigh
    Oct 27, 2013

    Mat, this is the view of youth rather than experience. I would liken the reaction to the Mumford’s second album to that when Dire Straits released Communique all those years ago. Many people were of the opinion that it was too similar to the first album – probably correctly. Then they delivered the album Making Movies, and the rest we know!

    • Mat Baker
      Oct 27, 2013

      I did kind of figure that Ian, and unless the surnames are a startling coincidence, I will assume you know from whence you speak! I can understand a fan wanting more of the same, and let’s face it, it worked a treat for Oasis, and kept a hardcore of fans very happy for a decade.

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