Mumford & Sons have recently returned from a hiatus, which occurred soon after their third album Wilder Mind was released. That album was slated by the critics and fans alike, with it seeing the band throwing away the banjos and embacing more of a pop-rock sound. On latest album Delta, the band seem to have brought the folk elements back, combining them with the sound of their third record to make something new.
By Jane Howkins
They’re a band that have often been criticised for chasing trends. People wanted more banjos after their first album Sigh No More, so they added in more banjos on the next album Babel. People thought the folk thing was overplayed after listening to Babel, so they got rid of that aspect of their sound completely on Wilder Mind. On Delta they’ve done the same sort of thing and combined the folk and pop-rock moments together, which is what a lot of the critics and fans were crying out for after their last album was released. It’s a bit sad to see them following the trends yet again, and it brings up the question of whether the band truly care about what their fans think, or whether they’re thinking about what might bring them more success.
It’s probably a little bit of both, and we don’t want to be so cynical as to suggest that this is a band that is thinking solely about money – let’s be honest, they’ve made enough now, and we do get the feeling listening to Delta that they’re making music they want to make. It’s a bit of a catch 22 situation that they’re stuck in. In terms of the music itself, it’s typical Mumford stuff, yet it does sound different. The album is full of atmospheric sweeping statements, and a lot of the songs are slowed down, somber affairs.
The tracks are anthemic, but in a different way. Whereas before they were upbeat songs that you could sing to in a bar after a few drinks, most of these tracks were made to be listened to alone. There’s definitely something very appealing about the album if this is your sort of thing, but if we’re honest it’s a little boring, and there aren’t many stand out songs on Delta. If we were to compare them to anyone here, we would say they’re attempting to be like U2 or Augustines, but we would recommend you listen to those two bands over the Mumford boys.
It’s a shame as Mumford & Sons are definitely very talented musicians, but they’re obviously still trying to find their niche. They might be a little closer to finding it, and the reception from fans (if not the critics) seems to be better this time around, and perhaps that’s what’s most important. They’re not a bad band by any means and there are some good songs here, but we would much rather listen to Sigh No More or Babel, and we reckon they really need to work out who they want to be, without basing their music too much on what other people think. Sometimes when you stop trying so hard, you start making the music you were always supposed to make.