It was no small task for Mumford & Sons to write a second album after the worldwide success of their debut album ‘Sigh No More’, which went platinum four times over in the UK and twice over in the US. They rose to fame in 2009, carving their way through the music industry and taking the world by storm and suddenly making the banjo cool. ‘Babel’, released on 24th September, took the band a year and a half to write and perfect, but the wait was certainly worth it for this stunning record and from the first listen it is clear they have got it just right.
The album as a whole does not claim to be something it is not. From the very first track, Marcus Mumford sings ‘I know my weakness/I know my voice’; this is the first of many songs indicating the growth and maturity the band has developed through the creation of the album. The band told NME earlier in the year that the record was set to be an “evolution, not a revolution” and they have certainly kept true to their word. This album has built on the foundations of ‘Sigh No More’ and created something more developed providing us with some sensational tracks.
The band’s sound has remained the same: upbeat rhythms and the crashing of strings paired with catchy lyrics dominate this album. However dotted here and there are ballads reminiscent of their previous album create a balance between the beauty of the writing and foot-stamping drama of the music. The album hosts more slower-paced songs than ‘Sigh No More’ giving them an opportunity to showcase the fantastic vocals the band can offer: the songs are rife with harmonies and gentle chords. The album is a concept piece loosely narrating a tale through the songs from the very start of the album, which gives us the highs, the lows and a full range of emotion within the songs. The band has called ‘Babel’ “an advert for their live shows” and it certainly is. The songs exist to be performed on stage and they definitely have a festival vibe that makes the album sure to be a winner with the fans, especially those fortunate enough to have already witnessed the incredible stage presence they hold.
‘I Will Wait’, the first single from the album, is set to be big with a very catchy chorus and soft harmonies reminding us just how talented the folk quartet are. Other songs to watch include the delicate ‘Below My Feet’, which boasts gentle guitars and soothing “ahhs” throughout. While the track ‘Babel’ holds an upbeat rhythm, plenty of banjo and best of all Marcus Mumford’s soulful and powerful voice that we have grown to adore. The passion he holds behind his words reach out to the listener in his unusual folk style, which captivates listeners and draws them into Mumford & Son’s music. Overall ‘Babel’ is a fantastic album and a definite improvement on their debut album, but the true question from this album is if Mumford and Sons will tear away from the same style and attempt something different in the future. Either way ‘Babel’ shows promising signs of big things to come from Mumford and Sons in the future.