When news came that Mumford & Sons were ditching the banjo-intensified frills and thrills of their previous two critically-acclaimed albums, fans of the band were rightfully apprehensive. Not only were Mumford’s sons another folk/rock band amongst the droves introduced to the mainstream listening public over the past seven or eight years; they pretty much started the entire folk/rock radio revolution to the point that ‘Mumfordian’ became a coined term to describe the sound. While a surprise, however, those with their minds even partially open will soon realize that what truly matters on the baseline as a collective for the band still remains, and what’s added is anything but inessential fluff.
Audiences will be quick to draw relations to other Euro-rock bands like U2 or Coldplay when looking to gather comparisons to the band’s new effort, Wilder Mind, though what the copious amounts of reverberating electric guitars and tinges of studio synth truly invoke are a passion bred since childhood for each of the members. Mumford, Lovett, Marshall, and Dwane have each cited rock influences and attitudes – even more-so than folk influences – in the past, and their familiarity with the album’s instrumental context crafts a tremendous zeal that brims at the seams. Cohesively organic, Wilder Mind plays like an arena-filling set of rock anthems, but with the same introspection and disquietude that had a strong piece to do with Mumford & Sons becoming trendy in the first place.
In totality, Mumford stays ‘Mumfordian’ while evolving the term to embrace more than just a banjo-centric instrumentation. You’ll find a barrage of electrified guitar numbers and a heavier overall collective sound, but the whole of what makes Mumford & Sons Mumford & Sons – a relatable lyrical angst melded seamlessly into Marcus’ trademark tone and driven home by a tight, romping band – still remains whole. The fact that Mumford & Sons have been allowed to expand their horizons and play with more sounds that are unique to them shouldn’t be shamed, especially when they wear that change so well.
Words: Jonathan Frahm