By Orry Robinson
Last week saw the release of Mumford and Sons second album Babel. This highly anticipated record comes three years after the 2009 Brit Award winning debut Sigh No More. And fans will be delighted to know that the band have not veered far from what they already know. And why would they? It works.
The title track, “Babel”, details a man's reinvention of himself. He sings of how he has cast off his old identity and found one which he is now content with. Unlike the walls of Babylon which were indeed impenetrable to outside forces so many years ago, he has managed to tear his walls down, a feat which he then proceeds to boast about in the triumphant lines: “I cry Babel! Babel! Look at me now/ Then the walls of my town/ they come crumbling down.”
The accompanying instruments – from the banjo to the bass drum – produce a steady, yet thunderous thrum, and keep right in line with the meaning behind each song.
The confidence emitting from the vocals convey a positive change from old to new. “Where Are You Now” delves into the heartaches of a rough break up; the state of wondering where and what your former partner is now doing, and whether they think of you as much as you think of them. The song conveys this feel
ing brilliantly with a doleful chorus and a climatic coming-together of the band; who harmonize to create a sound of sorrow that is manifest within the melody.
The official single from the album, “I Will Wait” has had mixed reviews. While listening to it you can't help but feel it’s trying to recreate the success of the band's first single, “Little Lion Man.” An earlier version of this song, known as “Untitled”, was previously a B-side on “The Cave” single. In this version it’s played to a much slower tempo, and does not include the rapidly strummed chorus, or the lyrics “I will wait.” It appears to have been changed to please the masses and create a sing-a-long single – luckily for them, the newer version works exactly as they intended; it will have you screeching along with it.
Fair criticism would be that the new record is in many ways similar to that of their début However, Mumford and Sons have tapped into a very distinct style, a style which does not allow much room for variation without completely revamping their sound. Any significant changes or development and they wouldn't be the Mumford and Sons we know.
Babel as a whole is a beautifully crafted, well rounded album. It includes the signature Mumford and Sons harmonies and blistering strumming patterns, and they are contrasted well with the slow, serene lyric-driven songs.
This album is already a success, and their tours are sell-outs. They are a band who have found a formula and style that works for them. And it’s more than a happy coincidence that it works for us too.