Mumford & Sons has finally released a second album. The now famous folk rock band was formed in late 2007 in London, and rose to popularity in both the U..S. and Great Britain with the release of its first album, Sigh No More. The album was released in the U.S. in February of 2010, and has since sold 2.4 million copies in the U.S. Anticipation of the band’s second album, titled Babel, had been drawn out for too long when the album was released on Tuesday.
Mumford & Sons has a signature sound, and with the immense success of its first album, there was always going to be a struggle between sticking to the old sound and bringing in a new one. The band has stuck to what they know works, for the most part. The album is unmistakably theirs, and is in the same style as Sigh No More, but brings a few hints of refreshing changes with it.
Babel starts with an upbeat song with the same title as the album. It is an energetic and chaotic track that introduces the album with a bang. It is a reminder of the quality of Sigh No More, and reassures the listener that nothing has changed in the two years since the last album. Listening to Mumford & Sons’ music is the same honest and fun experience that it has always been.
After another track in a similar vein as the first, the album brings “I Will Wait,” an energetic but predictable song that was released before the bulk of the album as a teaser. It is a pleasure to listen to, but after a couple of tracks with the same sound as the band’s first album, the ear starts wishing for something new.
Fans of Mumford & Sons have spent the last two years listening to Sigh No More. After such a period of time getting used to the sound of the band, those hoping this second album will be as refreshing and unique as the first will be disappointed. It is more of the old music, and if you hadn’t had time to listen to Sigh No More so many times over the last two years, it might be more exciting. Those looking for more of the same thing will be pleased, but this album does not have the same impact as the first. It simply provides a larger library of Mumford & Sons songs to fans with a few gems mixed in.
After a solid introduction with the song “Babel,” and then a block of less captivating tracks, the next song that stands out is “Hopeless Wanderer.” The track starts as many do, with a thoughtful introduction, but the frequent tempo changes of the song keep things interesting and force the listener to pay attention. Especially considering its length (over five minutes), the track is solid and snares the listener for the duration.
The next track, “Broken Crown,” which is more explicit than most of Mumford & Sons’ tracks, keeps the listener intrigued with a combination of crescendos and decrescendos that bring quiet and angry bitterness together well.
For those who do not choose the deluxe edition album, the intrigue ends there, but the deluxe version includes three more tracks.
The first, titled “For Those Below,” is one of the most refreshing songs of the album because it remains quiet. It is a sensitive song from a band that likes to introduce noise and chaos often. This combined with the unusual harmonies of the song makes it a favorite.
Also included is Paul Simon’s “The Boxer,” made famous by Simon and Garfunkel. The Mumford & Sons version is just as good as the original, and the band seems to keep the song moving well as they explore a few more harmonies they rarely use.
As a whole, Babel is a bit of a disappointment for those who loved the band for being a fresh sound in 2010. At the same time, it provides 15 new tracks that fans have not been listening to for two years already. It is certainly a solid album that is true to the band and can be enjoyed, but Mumford & Sons could have changed more about the album and its sound to be more exciting and refreshing for fans who want something new.