By Dan Jurcisin
Mumford & Sons stays true to their sound on their sophomore album, “Babel.” Characterized by pulsating bass drum, strong vocal harmonies, and lightning-fast banjo, this album picks up right where its predecessor, “Sigh No More,” left off.
On this album, the British band continues to create a sound that is full, rich, and powerful. The tracks on this album are loaded with aggressive guitar strumming, triumphant horn sections, and beautiful vocal melodies. The band presents these elements with great energy that makes for a very passionate and intense-sounding album.
Many of the tracks on “Babel” are like novels in their musical progression. They begin quietly and with minimal instrumentation, usually with just a guitar to accompany the vocals, but then they begin to build. Additional instruments are introduced, and backing vocals and percussion become prominent as the track progresses towards its crescendo. The song leaves no empty space — it is all filled by the crashing of symbols, the droning of horns, and the strumming of guitar, as evident in “Lover Of The Light.”
Additionally, the band contrasts the intense, climactic nature of many of the songs with quiet and soft-sounding sections. This technique causes the volume of the songs to rise and fall, which keeps the tracks from getting dull.
The tone of the album is overall bright, cheery and hopeful. In “Holland Road,” lead singer and guitarist Marcus Mumford sings passionately, “And when I hit the ground / neither lost nor found / when I’m on my knees I’ll still believe.”
In spite of everything this album has to offer, it may still leave some listeners unsatisfied. Some may consider the intense and epic nature of many of the songs to be overblown or too dramatic. Furthermore, the steady, driving beat of the tambourine and bass drum can come off as repetitive. And if you were expecting a fresh, new sound from this band then you will probably be disappointed with their decision to stick to their roots.
Regardless, “Babel” is a fine album that defines Mumford & Sons’ sound very well. Fans of “Sigh No More” will most likely find something they enjoy about this album, and “Babel” is also a good place to start for people who are new to the band. The powerful, yet melodic and creative nature of this album provides a listening experience that is, to say the very least, entertaining.