Mumford & Sons’ new album is ‘Wilder Mind.’ Music critics have weighed in on the Grammy-winning London-based quartet’s studio album with mixed reviews, noting their transition from acoustic folk rock to straight-up undeniable rock, and musing as to that was a worthy musical evolution or not. Check out a roundup of what they have to say.
Mumford & Sons have gone pure rock this time around with their third album, and that alone has drawn notice. The band founded by Marcus Mumford — with bandmates Winston Marshall, Benjamin Lovett, and Ted Dwane — rose to international fame with their explorations of American and English traditional folk music. With their hugely successful debut album ‘Sigh No More’ and their sophomore album, ‘Babel’ which won the coveted Grammy Award, the band seemed to become global music stars against odds and certainly against predictions.
As we know, when music artists cross genre boundaries it rarely goes unnoticed. Typically it begs a question, if not several in succession. Is the transition a worthy one? Or is it a betrayal of what made the artists unique? The critics are mostly laudatory this time around, and the band has not provoked a chorus of anguish and pain.
But it has to be noted that yes, for Mumford & Sons fans, it is a change. The instruments are different — banjo, , accordion and the bass drum are gone. Yes, even their attire is different; they’re donning black leather instead of farm duds this time around.
So what’s a listener to think of all of this musical evolution? Music critics are weighing in, and all have plenty to say about it positive and negative. Here’s a roundup.
“….These Grammy winners aren’t doing anything U2 can’t toss off after a Guinness-soaked bender, but Wilder Mind showcases tremendous growth. Detractors who find 2009’s career-making Sigh No More and 2012’s Babel treacly probably won’t undergo a holy conversion, but devotees – even those spooked by banjoist Winston Marshall’s terse renouncing of the instrument responsible for his status as a platinum-selling artist — can breathe easy…..” — Consequence of Sound
“…Where their old songs ran on vegetable oil, these new ones guzzle jet fuel. In only the stodgiest of circles should this be cause for concern: Not only does Wilder Mind reintroduce the band members as rock gods worthy of the title, it does so without changing what fans cherished most about them in the first place: their songwriting, their sentiment, their gusto……” — Billboard
“…..Wilder Mind is too well executed to truly dislike, but it also doesn’t provide many reasons to rally around Mumford & Sons’ brave new world. If they’re serious about this direction, they’ll need to diversify their sound. Maybe add a banjo?….” — Entertainment Weekly
“… Wilder Mind‘s improvements aren’t easy to quantify, but they’re pervasive: every song displays some sort of improved command, whether through a better established setting or a better sense of space and pace. You can hear the ghosts of other bands running through the record, too: The War on Drugs’ dreamy American motorik, the simmering moodiness of Dessner’s own group, even the gentle melodicism of early Coldplay (particularly on the simple, stunning “Cold Arms”). But Mumford and his bandmates hold their own against this tide of influence where they may have collapsed earlier, thanks to the strength of their songwriting and a maturity missing from their first two records. ….” — Time
“….What’s left is pretty ordinary indie-rock. The only thing to set it apart from countless other bands are the odd moments when Mumford’s folk roots poke through the glossy makeover. It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine Broad Shouldered Beasts rendered in their old acoustic style, while Monster is enlivened by an odd-sounding pedal-steel solo. For the most part, however, the music on Wilder Mind just passes you by: the nondescript sound of a band trying to shake off an image they feel they’ve outgrown, without coming up with anything to replace it. …..” — The Guardian
“….Alarm bells ring as soon as “Tompkins Square Park” layers martial beats with chiming guitars, all anthemic roads leading back to U2 by way of Bono’s offspring. “Believe” couldn’t be more Coldplay-like if it consciously uncoupled Gwyneth Paltrow, its epically shimmering keyboards conveying festival-farmed lyrical uplift (“Open up my eyes/ Tell me I’m alive”)…..” — The Independent
Critics have had their say, peppering reviews with observations and frets over Mumford & Sons’ ‘Wilder Mind’ album and its new sound. It remains to be seen if fans will embrace the band and, too, we are left wondering of the future direction of the band which has had a noteworthy place in folk music revivalism.
You can watch the Mumford & Sons performing ‘Believe,’ the lead single of ‘Wilder Mind’ below.
Pictures: PR Photos