Entertainment Entertainment Music

Album review: Mumford & Sons, `Babel'

Mumford & Sons may seem like a blend of some of the world's most annoying archetypes, from the guy who starts playing the guitar at parties to the guy who dresses like a mixologist. The Brits’ songs all tend to follow a similar formula: bluegrass hoedown crescendos into bombastic indie-rock sing-a-long. These things can make a band easy to resent, particularly for the cynical observer who might also note the group's air of focus-grouped appeal. But there are certain benefits to being such a seemingly risk-averse band.

Take “Babel,” the Mumford crew's second album, which offers a uniformly solid track list and few surprises. “Babel” hits all the right notes – pleasant banjo parts, touches of introspection, large doses of affirmation – and never strays far enough from these elements to yield any total duds. It's well-produced. It probably could keep a carload of people happy on a road trip. There's slickness to it, but not to the point of distraction.

Probably the band's biggest selling point to the skeptics, though, is that while they are accessible, they are rarely pretty. Marcus Mumford's voice has a raggedness that gives his songwriting some small edge of desperation, and when it comes across strongest, on the album's title track or the Dave Matthews Band-like “Lover of the Light,” for instance, the band sounds distraught, not disingenuous.

Kyle Kramer is a RedEye special contributor. @redeyechimusic

Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page.

 

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Album review: No Doubt, `Push and Shove'

    Album review: No Doubt, `Push and Shove'

    Let's make one thing clear: Gwen Stefani still has it. Gwen Stefani will always have it. But in the 11 (!) years since "Rock Steady" was released, No Doubt may have decided to lean too much on what's going to make them commercially successful and less on what's innovative and edgy.

  • No fixes in sight for state budget, CPS pension payment

    No fixes in sight for state budget, CPS pension payment

    Facing a day of multiple deadlines, Illinois lawmakers return to the Capitol on Tuesday little closer to coming up with a new state budget or helping Chicago Public Schools deal with a deadline for a massive pension payment.

  • Donald Trump says cops should be tougher on Chicago crime

    Donald Trump says cops should be tougher on Chicago crime

    Businessman Donald Trump brought his nascent bid for the Republican presidential nomination to town Monday, warning that crime in Chicago is "out of control" and hurting the city's image worldwide.

  • South Carolina church shooting shines spotlight on media treatment of white, black suspects

    South Carolina church shooting shines spotlight on media treatment of white, black suspects

    I have been to the Grammy Awards. I have had features written about my music in Billboard, XXL, Jet and other magazines I've always loved. Oprah Winfrey told me to my face that she loves my dreads and purple eyebrows. My music is played on TV shows and movies, and I write about my opinionated views...

  • 'Magic Mike XXL' is the summer's best sequel so far

    'Magic Mike XXL' is the summer's best sequel so far

    2012’s “Magic Mike” and its sequel, “Magic Mike XXL,” could have been so stupid, and I’m sure those who haven’t seen either one assume that they are. I mean, think of how cheesy a movie about male strippers could be. Based on the commercials, they barely seem like movies at all—just two-hour thrust-athons...

  • Vince Staples' sprawling double album 'Summertime '06' is relentlessly gritty

    Vince Staples' sprawling double album 'Summertime '06' is relentlessly gritty

    Vince Staples deals in pessimism, for good reason. The Long Beach rapper has seen a lot of violence and despair in his 21 years. He'll tell you about it too, in unflinching clarity that few artists his age possess. There’s little if any hope in his music. Yet even with the darkness oozing out of...

  • RedEye's favorite songs of 2015 (so far)

    RedEye's favorite songs of 2015 (so far)

    As we reach 2015's midpoint, it's clear that the year in music has been incredible, with a little bit of everything, from classic soul, rap, emo, '70s funk, grunge and scorching Southern rock to searing punk, bubblegum pop and jazz fusion. In particular, Kendrick Lamar's rap-funk masterpiece "To...

  • RedEye's 25 favorite albums of 2015 (so far)

    RedEye's 25 favorite albums of 2015 (so far)

    As we reach 2015's midpoint, it's clear that the year in music has been incredible, with a little bit of everything from classic soul, rap, emo, '70s funk, grunge and scorching Southern rock to searing punk, bubblegum pop and jazz fusion. In particular, Kendrick Lamar's rap-funk masterpiece "To...

Comments
Loading