The London-based band of Mumford and Sons have found a global audience and have received global acclaim to go with it.
Their first two albums “Sign No More” and “Babel” were produced by Markus Davis and saw massive success. In an era were musicians (rock artists in particular) do not sell in record numbers, Mumford and Sons were able to go against that norm with “Babel” selling over 600,000 units in it’s first week and “Sign No More” became only the seventh album to sell over 1 million digital units.
Mumford and Sons lean heavily towards the independent and folk music genres more than anything else so it makes sense they do well in today’s climate. People look for voices that are calm and relatable in turbulent and unsure times and Mumford and Sons hope to communicate well with it’s massive audience once again with the release of “Wilder Mind.”
In trying to “grow” as artists, the band decided to go with James Ford over Markus Davis to produce their third record. The change in production was trying to expand their audience and take some steps away from their general stripped down sound.
All of that makes sense with the track “Tompkins Square Park,” as the British band pays tribute to a destination in New York City. Musically the track comes together, especially the breaks after the chorus, where the band comes in sync nicely afterwards.
The title track “Wilder Mind” details a break up and has a hint of David Bowie influence on it. Lyrically, Mumford and Sons hit with simplicity a lot throughout the album but on “Wlider Mind” they deliver some relatable “break up” lines: “Beholden now I find myself awake / Waiting on the edge again / you sleep so sound with your mind made up / Drinking from your cup of broken ends.”
The album becomes a frustrating listen mostly because the vocal abilities of Marcus Mumford are noticeably limited. His melodies are similar throughout the album and he only has two tones: low and sort of gravely and barely singing, pretty much talking.
Maybe this would be something to look passed if it wasn’t for the juvenile lyrics that are peppered throughout “Wilder Mind.” For instance on “Ditmas” he mutters the following: “Careful hands, and wandering without that much to say / your words are empty as the bed we made / is there another way? / Oh love, is there another way?”
Mumford and Sons seem to be taking themselves to serious on the track “Only You” and it ultimately ends up being a sad comical attempt at justifying a lost love. The song drags out with it’s simplicity and gravely spoken word poetry and goes into a break that is anything but “exciting” but more like a forced surprise attack on the listener.
In yet another heartbreak song, “Just Smoke” follows a predictable pattern as they seem to be getting caught in a rut with producer James Ford but the simple chorus assisted with hand claps should be enough to keep the new age flower-children content: “I thought we were done, and young love would keep us young.”
Generally, the album hits a pattern of it being “more of the same,” with tracks like “Monster” and “Cold Arms” but “Broad Shouldered Beasts” at least makes the album not a total loss.
Mumford sings about trying to not fall apart from his lover and will do whatever it takes to save the relationship even if it means taking the blame which he knowingly doesn’t deserve: “But wasn’t it you who said i was not free / and wasn’t it you who said i needed peace / and now it’s you who’s floored by fear of it all / But it’s alright, take it out on me.”
Mumford and Sons, have already established a fan base, and this album was more of a safe path to support that than it was to expand to a newer audience.
The simplicity of the lyrics are mind numbing and the music itself is nothing new or unheard – it’s just a regular listen by a band who is supposed to be more than regular.
Rating 1.5 out of 5