For a band who reintroduced folk to the masses, it appears Mumford have missed a trick on their second outing, with a distinctly repetitive array of songs.
The opening track and title song Babel, is catchy enough and has the Mumford style build up, with banjos, mandolins and folk guitars setting the pace. It gives the album a solid start.
From here on it’s frustrating on the ear. Babel promised much, but rarely delivers. The majority of the songs progress slowly and upon reaching a climax, the absence of a defining chrous that made Roll Away Your Stone and The Cave such hits is apparent.
However, the first single from the album, I Will Wait, has a considerably stronger chorus, and a memorable melody and lyrics. It’s a glimpse at Mumford’s talents.
It matures into a romantic ballad, and as Marcus Mumford’s voice belts out so does a personal feel. There’s undoubtedly a romantic backdrop to the album, but the genuine hurt and anger of the first album is gone.
Reminder is indeed a reminder of how soothing Marcus’ voice is stripped down. With just a faint guitar, he sounds raw, exposed and excellent, qualities that aren’t found on other tracks. The vocals are often overpowered by the instruments.
Mumford’s creativity is severely lacking on this record, with similar intros and predictable vocals all too present. Rather alarmingly, Broken Crown is almost a carbon copy of I Gave You All, bar lyrical differences.
The album does finish strongly though. Below My Feet gives an indulgent, striking melody and Not With Haste rounds things off nicely.
Perhaps too much was expected of Mumford and Sons; second albums are a notoriously hard to master. It’s difficult to see this one as a grower. The band needs a different sound or they’ll become a one trick pony. For all the relentless jolly strumming and lyrical endeavour, Babel falls a little short.
I Will Wait – Mumford and Sons