Online Features Editor, Theo Stone, takes a look at the third “unremarkable” offering from London folk quartet Mumford & Sons.
Mumford & Sons
4 May 2015, Gentlemen of the Road
The banjos are gone, the tweed abandoned, and the cider has been destroyed. Mumford & Sons have gone the way of the Newport Folk Festival, and have plugged themselves into amplifiers. Channelling the vibes of the Strokes, Blur, and the hundreds of the other indie rock artists who have come before, Mumford & Sons have sauntered boldly into 2015 with their brand-new album, Wilder Mind.
Sounds exciting, right? Unfortunately, it’s not. In fact, it’s one of the most underwhelming albums in recent memory.
A major problem is the fact that there is nothing to get excited about. Each song is a simply re-tread of another song that we’ve all heard a thousand times before. There is no sense of substance, just sound and alleged style. It sounds as if Marcus Mumford simply sat down with a copy of How to Write a Rock Anthem for Dummies, and copied the textbook out word-for-word.
To make matters even worse, the dynamics are rather flaccid. Yes, it’s nice when bands start off softly, and then build up in a controlled crescendo to a fortissimo for the final minute or so, but if you do it in such a clinical manner, and repeat the same trick on every other song, and forget about dynamic shifts in the others, then the effect will subside quickly and won’t be regained.
And now we return to the elephant in the room, the idea of ‘originality’. Many of Mumford and Sons’ fans won’t have experienced a band make such a ‘sudden’ shift in their sound, (in this case, from folk pop to alt. rock) but the problem is that the shift in itself does not guarantee creativity. With this shift, no new ground is being broken. Hundreds of folk bands throughout the ages have suddenly started ‘rocking’. Bob Dylan set the folk world on fire in 1965 with his electric appearance at the previously mentioned Newport Folk Festival. Richard Thompson has constantly treaded back and forth between pure folk and rock n’ roll, and the late John Martyn spent the good part of two decades constantly reinventing his sound.
However, every time they did this, they brought something new to the table. John Martyn’s Solid Air is a stone-cold classic of the folk-jazz genre, whilst One World broke new ground in terms of guitar effects. Both were highly original and engaging. The complete opposite is true for Wilder Mind. The album is utterly lacking in original ideas, and thus there is little to take away and/or like.
I’m sorry, Fall Out Boy. You haven’t made the dullest album of 2015. Mumford & Sons have.
Theo Stone, Online Features Editor