Mumford & Sons—‘Babel’ has true grit
Published: Monday, October 1, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 1, 2012 23:10
Undertones of Mumford & Sons’ “Sigh no More” resound through my mind when I think about the past three years. There’s “White Blank Page,” the song that gave me courage to defeat writer’s block freshman year. Then, there were nights during sophomore year I’d stay up for hours with my first love while “Little Lion Man” played in the background between serious talks, play fights and petty arguments. It would have been heartbreaking if we knew “Hold On to What You Believe” would be the song I’d clench to after we parted ways. It is exciting to know that Mumford & Sons’ latest album “Babel” can now be a part of my last year in college.
“Sigh no More” had such an impact on my musical preference that it left me wondering if Mumford would ever be able to create a masterpiece nearly as magnificent and relatable as the first. Oftentimes, bands have a tough time outdoing the first album, but I’m pleased to say “Babel” is the identically wonderful birth child of ‘Sigh no More.”
With foot stomping, finger picking and thick, melodious harmonizations, Mumford has managed to doubly radiate the musical ingenuity they gave us in “Sigh no More.” The first song opens with the group’s easily distinguishable acoustic strumming and transitions into thought provoking lyrics: “I cry Babel, Babel, look at me now, the walls of my town, they come crumbling down.” This song sets the stage for the rest of the album’s spiritual vibe.
After I listened a few times, I concluded that although the sound of “Babel” is eerily familiar to “Sigh no More,” the picture Mumford has painted is completely different. “Babel” isn’t a choppy album with 12 stories, but more of an English folk/hillbilly story about a tale of two lovers trying to survive a dying relationship.
It took me awhile to conclude why Mumford blew up so fast in the first place, but after comparing the band to its once-independent counterparts, it finally made sense. Mumford has an uncanny ability to make simplicity sound absolutely beautiful while incorporating gut-wrenching, easily relatable lyrics nobody else would be able to come up with.
“Babel” is an emotional roller coaster, painting a very visible image of what many encounter at least once in a relationship:
“I will wait for you.” (I Will Wait)
“You cut me down, so I hid alone, but little did I know that would not be the end.” (Holland Road)
“But I will hold as long as you like, just promise me we’ll be all right.” (Ghosts That We Knew)
“You may not trust the promises of the change I’ll show, but I’ll be yours if you’ll be mine.” (Lover of the Light)
“We will run and scream. You will dance with me; they’ll fulfill our dreams, and we’ll be free. And we will be who we are. And they’ll heal our scars. Sadness will be far away.” (Not With Haste)
Another reason why “Babel” is so addictive is because it is a constant mood changer. Although there’s the central theme of love and loss, it’s nothing like listening to a senseless album with the same idea throughout. A large portion of the album is almost like an emotional purgatory, especially songs six through 12.
I didn’t know what the outcome would be until the end, and the gritty closing of ‘Not With Haste’ ended perfectly and gave me exactly what I needed to end my interpretation of their story.
If I were to rate the Sons’ latest album, I would certainly give it a 5/5. Even though Mumford & Sons took a while to master “Babel,” the outcome was worth the wait. “Babel” far exceeded my expectations and left me wondering what will happen next with this band.