God and Bombast
4 Out of 5 Stars
Mumford And Sons have given music a much needed kick in the butt by proving you don't need to be a synthed out dance band to sell to a big audience. It's helped bands like Avett Brothers, Trampled by Turtles and more reach a wider listener-ship and helped reestablish Americana and roots music in the USA. And that's a good thing in my mind. "Babel" is their second full length CD, and it follows the slow-burn success of "Sigh No More," as well as finding the band in a tough situation. How do you appease this new found audience who look upon you as the newest and next big thing without disappointing them?
In response, "Babel" loads up on the bombast and the religion. Think U2 with banjos, with the bulk of the songs also having a soft/loud/soft/explode variety of songwriting that owes as much to grunge than folk-rock. There's way too much "Jesus saved me" here for my tastes, yet the disc overall is pretty darn great. There's a lot of soul in Marcus Mumford's voice and he's happy to pour it on with all the force he can muster (the title track) or in longing ("I Will Wait")or cries for salvation ("Whispers in The Dark"). As the band rises and swells behind him, Mumford's voice carries the emotional wallop of the lyrics he's penned with ease. Add some otherworldly harmonies and you have the makings for greatness.
There isn't much subtlety in that manner of music making, but the emphasis here is on the rock part of Folk-Rock. There's a hunger for this kind of honesty in music and "Babel" gives sustenance.