Babel review by Mumford and Sons

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  • Released: Sep 21, 2012
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 5
  • Overall Impression: 5
  • Reviewer's score: 5.7 Decent
  • Users' score: 7.9 (76 votes)
Mumford and Sons: Babel

Sound — 7
As an overall sound I can't complain about the album. The quality of the recording is obviously to a higher standard than their "debut" album but adding horns and orchestra backing doesn't win me over. There has been a lot of talk about Marcus's gritty voice and how they are amping up the sound (potentially for areas)... Marcus's voice definitely has an interesting quality to it that makes you hang on his every word but the constant go go go of the first 4 tracks make me relieved when "Ghosts That We Knew" finally comes into play. Its so refreshing when you get to hear him really sing than when he's constantly belting out. I feel as though I'm listening Christian Bale as batman from time to time (exaggeration). Yes, in between these tracks they subside long enough for you to gather your thoughts about the previous track but once you hear that kick drum come back you know the overpowering banjo is soon to follow (and I love banjo!). It just seems to me that Mumford & Sons says here is the part where the song builds and it is one of maybe three equations: full instrument blow out, oh's and ah's, big harmonies (not horrible but others do it much more justice). I found my self hearing too many similarities between tracks on the album and even between albums. Is no one irritated that the strumming in "I Will Wait" (first single) and "Little Lion Man" (first single) are pretty much the same as well as many banjo picking patterns?

Lyrics — 5
"A brush with the devil can clear your MIND and straighten your SPINE." "When I'm on my KNEES I still BELIEVE." "Ghosts in my HEAD / They run wild and wish me DEAD." "Shake my ash to the WIND / Lord forget all my SINS." "I was under your SPELL when I was told by Jesus all was WELL." This is what happened in my mind every time I heard a new verse. With the "hanging on every word" quality of Marcus's voice I mentioned before its hard not to notice this annoying flaw in the album. With the inflections he is makes its almost like a punch at the end of every statement, as if to reinforce "i>Hey everyone this is the word I'm using to rhyme". I do appreciate the content of the religious references and undertones. I thought that in some moments such as the use of the word "f--k" was more sincere than when used in "Little Lion Man" but those moments were too few and far between.

Overall Impression — 5
Between the repetition of certain elements instrumentally and the punchy rhyming it was hard for me to really have a great impression of the album. "Sigh No More" rode the roller coaster better than "Babel" and by that I mean the emotion of the album didn't flow well from tempo, to subject matter, to creative moments. It's not the worst album in the world. I would still recommend it over most anything on the radio.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I love how everyone has these extreme mixed feelings for this record. I reviewed it myself last week (not for UG) and I agree with people on both camps. Is it as strong as Sigh no More? Nay! But we're talking about an english folk band that released a record which peaked in the mainstream charts, something even then hard to imagine. This record contains songs written during and prior to that recording session and when they released it they clearly stated that it wouldn't contain anything new sound-wise. I get how some people see this as a weaker version of their debut, and I agree, but I'm also quite happy that they kept their sound exactly like the Mumford and Sons we fell in love with 3 or so years ago.
    The cover on the deluxe version of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Boxer" is incredible. Best track on the album in my opinion. If you don't include the deluxe version then I'd say either the title track or "The Ghosts We Knew"