Wilder Mind by Mumford and Sons
The gentlemen of Mumford and Sons have aged gracefully, with hints of their folky roots still present, but no longer defining them. This is their third studio album, and it clearly explores their musical development. Their sound was always unapologetically well-defined, bringing modern folk and banjo music to the mainstream, but it seems there was still room for progression. The guys have long been the masters of the slow build-up, but what once would have roused barns and intimate venues has now developed into a battle cry, ready for arenas and stadiums.
The strained emotion in Marcus Mumford’s voice is still present and remains part of what makes the band instantly recognisable. He leads the band in this grittier sound, wearing his heart on his sleeve, joined by heavier drums and the additional twang of the electric guitar replacing the banjo.
In slower moments, such as Only Love, the album is almost menacing, and where the song is heading seems uncertain. The band are excellent building up a track, and the tension is palpable; whether the track leaves its listeners weeping or jumping around the living room, they are grateful for the experience.
Departing from past producer Markus Dravs and now working with James Ford, the band have said that this is not a total abandonment of their first two productions, but a means of sampling something new. This is encouraging for those searching for their old sound, as it does not rule out a return, but it also shows that they are not afraid to grow and experiment. This indicates longevity for a multi-talented group of men, who as it turns out may have only shown the beginning of what they are capable of.
While some might miss the banjo and bluegrass sound which brought Mumford and Sons to the world’s attention, they could hardly be expected to stagnate. This album shows that they have not lost sight of what really matters and what attracted fans to their music in the first place. Banjo or not, it is the ability to take listeners on a literary and musical journey with every track which will both keep hold of diehard fans and bring in curious new ones.
Wilder Mind was released on 4th May 2015.
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