Here stands Matthew Mcconaughey’s background music with a touch of Coldplay.
I’m impartial to the whole indie rock/folk rock resurgence. Yes, lo-fi production and whimsical songwriting is interesting, but the whole kick drum, banjo twang became gimmicky with Mumford and Sons’ sophomore put out, Babel. There’s only enough frantic strumming and slow builds the ears can take. Sigh No More succeeded in its playful songwriting and ability to draw in the mainstream market with a refreshing sound. However, the band sat on that nest egg too long and it showed in its follow up record. With Wilder Mind, the band all but abandons its country/folk elements, ejecting more of an arena rock/straight indie rock style.
Change is a fickle beast. Bands must progress, but there needs to be familiarity in their sound, just enough repetition for audiences to have that “I know that band,” syndrome. Wilder Mind feels derivative, drawing from U2 and Coldplay to get its point across. I almost imagined Chris Martin crooning to the lead single, “I Believe.” When you think of another band playing the song you’re listening to, that’s a problem. Also, Mumford and Sons is energy. I was lucky enough to see their heralded live show at Memphis in May (2011). I still have yet to recapture the moment “The Cave” reached its climax, with everyone jumping as one. Pretty crazy stuff. In order to move forward, for some reason Mumford decided to take away the band’s trademark stand-up-and-stomp-your-feet passion, instead sitting back to synthesizers and dream pop guitar tracks. Struggling for identity is not where the band needs to be, especially when they’re still in the “prove yourself” stage of their career.
So, is Mumford and Sons heading in the right direction? This album feels like a transition, and like every transitional album, there are moments of interest scattered throughout. Tracks like “Snake Eyes,” and “The Wolf” possess the energy Mumford and Sons is known for, with passionate lyrics and hard hitting guitar. I’ve always enjoyed Mumford’s voice, an opinion that’s likely near the bottom of the barrel. To each his own, I guess. A mix of Chris Martin — and I don’t know, Bob Dylan? Help me out here — the man’s voice pushes “Tompkins Square Park” forward and, at times, make the dream pop guitars and drum programming interesting.
Musicianship wise, there’s not much to talk about. The band members do their part. Banjo guy is now second guitar guy. Ben Lovett — I watched the guy knock over his piano with passion — brings his keyboard layers out on “Believe” and “Ditmas.” Lovett is probably one of the more talented members of the band. On Sigh No More, his piano tracks hit at exactly the right time, adding much needed emotion to the band’s output. Wilder Mind brings Lovett’s keys to the forefront and is individually quite engaging. I hope to hear more from this guy on the next record.
Mumford and Sons’ Wilder Mind broke their comfortable mold, but reached too far into derivative territory. Overall, just not a very interesting record. Let’s hope the transition helps the band find its identity.
On a side note, what is with the band’s obsession with the word, fuck? So edgy.
Disclaimer: All rights, property, and content of the header image belongs to Kmeron on Flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/frf_kmeron/5041024989. I, in no way, have used the said image for profit. Image cropped for size.