Mumford & Sons made a big splash in the indie world earlier this year with the release of their debut album, Sigh No More. It was critically praised and talked about on websites like this one and in magazines like NME and Rolling Stone as one of the best of the year. Needless to say, I came late to the party. I didn’t listen to this album until a couple of months ago, about half a year after its release.
If I had to name two albums that got recommended to me the most this year, it would be Sigh No More, and Up From Below by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. I don’t know why. I think people heard Ed Sharpe on an episode of “Chuck” and Mumford on two episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy.” Regardless, or the two, I think I prefer Up From Below, even though I think, technically, Sigh No More is a better album.
The problem for me is that a lot of Sigh No More is very depressing. Lyrically, not musically. Marcus Mumford’s voice is so forlorn and desperate at times that I have a hard time listening to him. Which is too bad, because a lot of the time he’s saying something interesting. Here’s what he says on “After the Storm“:
And there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.
And that’s a pretty upbeat lyric for these guys. There’s some hope in the sentiment at least.
Now, I said that it’s a sad record lyrically. Musically, it’s really a testament to the musical abilities of the band. There’s some amazing banjo by Winston Marshall on almost every song. In fact, everyone in the band plays very well, and they all play more than one instrument without counting vocals. So instrumentally, they are sound. If they were to release a record of songs with no vocals, I think it would serve their fans just as well. They’re a real treat to listen to when they’re not making you want to kill yourself.
“Winter Winds” is a song that I can’t recommend enough, though. It is one of the seldom songs on the album that makes me feel good. A love song that reminds me of an old Irish ballad, it’s message is beautiful and true:
Oh the shame that sent me off from the God that I once loved
Was the same that sent me into your arms
Oh and pestilence is won when you are lost and I am gone
And no hope, no hope will overcome
You may not get it from that particular lyric, but it really is an uplifting song.
This is really a toss-up for me. Recommending or not recommending an album is a business I take very seriously. But I’m a bit halfway on this one. I do like it. The music is really awesome and I think a live show might be worth a listen. At the same time, the lyrics are so sad that I don’t want to tell you to listen to this album and then find out you overdosed on oxy because you couldn’t handle the pain (slight exaggeration on my part, perhaps).
I’m gonna go ahead and say pick it up. If you don’t like it, post a comment under this review telling me what an idiot I am. I’ll make it up to you by recommending something really awesome next time.
- Mumford & Sons hails from London, England. The band is: Marcus Mumford (vocals, guitar, drums, mandolin), Ben Lovett (vocals, keyboards, accordion), Winston Marshall (vocals, banjo, dobro) and Ted Dwayne (vocals, string bass).
- Sigh No More is available on iTunes for $9.99.
- Mumford & Sons will play The Riviera Theatre — after upgrading from The Vic — on Sunday, October 31. It’s sold out.
“Lion Little Man” official music video