Mumford and Sons made a bigger impact with their debut album in 2009 than any other folk band had in many years. Fans were hoping for, and anticipating a second album from the day the first was released. It took the band 3 years to do so, and when it was released, the sales were unparalleled. The group didn’t use a typical windowing technique when releasing the record. Instead, they released it everywhere at the same time. They still managed to sell 600,000 copies in the first week, beating out Madonna, Pink, and Justin Bieber alike. This album surely did not disappoint.
The opening track on the album Babel has contagious banjo and guitar lines that easily get stuck in your head. The booming vocal melody is well balanced with delicate verses. The second track on the album titled “Whispers in the Dark” leads off with its heartfelt lyrics. As the song goes on, the banjo melody slowly quickens, adding texture. The energy of this sounds builds from slow to fast so smoothly it’s barely noticeable. The next song off the album is called “I Will Wait.” This is the most popular track off the album and it’s obvious why. The vocal melody is incredibly catchy, and the harmonies are pristine. Just as all the tracks off this album do, “I Will Wait” stays true to the group’s folk roots. The talented banjo player, Winston Marshall, shines beyond measure in this track.
The fourth song titled “Holland Road” starts off slow and quiet, a nice change of pace from the previous track. The pulsating rhythm of this piece takes it a bit away from the folk roots. The banjo line is a bit diminished as well, making this one of the more indie-sounding tracks. “Ghosts That We Knew” is a hauntingly beautiful track. The use of reverb and dialed down instrumentals for most of the song makes it stand out. The emotion in the vocal melody shows off Marcus Mumford’s talent and emotional depth. He is one singer that is impossible to overlook. This element pours over into the sixth track called “Lover of the Light.” This piece has a feeling similar to the previous track within the vocal melody. Ted Dwane plays the double bass on this track. It is difficult to hear at first, but upon recognizing it, the song would feel empty without this understated element. The layered instrumentation of this song makes it, in my opinion, one of the best on the album.
Track number seven titled “Lovers’ Eyes” keeps with the slower pace of the previous two tracks. It begins with the guitar, mimicking the vocal melody, keeping things simple, yet powerful. For four minutes, the piece stays with this formula. Four minutes into the track there is an explosion of energy, taking the listener by pleasant surprise. “Reminder,” the eighth song off the record, is the shortest, at only two minutes long. The piece drips with longing and disrupts the flow of the album. However this is a positive disruption. I sat motionless, listening to the piece, connecting to each word. “Hopeless Wanderer” follows this song with a different sound. Starting with just keyboards, this track has the most developed instrumentation. That track brings us right back into the flow of the album showcasing their talent for songwriting.
Track number ten is titled “Broken Crown” and opens with a somber sound. With heart wrenching lyrics and fearless vocals this is by far the most emotional song off the album. This track has been overlooked by the masses, but in my opinion it shows fearlessness and strength. “Below My Feet” is the penultimate track on the album. It starts with simple keyboard and guitar instrumentation, as well as a minor melody. As the track continues the energy builds and with the banjo being added in, and ends with an entirely different energy. The final song of the album “Not With Haste” begins in a similar way to the previous track. The energy builds in the same manner, ending with a piece you never expected from the start of the song.
Mumford and Sons are a truly original group in every sense of the word. This album proves that in many different ways. They have a way of developing a song and have it go through a metamorphosis within a short four minutes. This isn’t easy to accomplish and still have the album make sense as a whole. It doesn’t matter what genre of music you listen to, this album can appeal to all types of listeners.