mon 10/08/2020

CD: Mumford and Sons - Wilder Mind | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Mumford and Sons - Wilder Mind

CD: Mumford and Sons - Wilder Mind

Former hipster-folkies find their niche in AOR

Mumfords: moving their sound Stateside

Mumford and Sons, world conquering as they are, still fall victim to various accusations. Some, for instance, loathe their blandness. Others detect a whiff of smug middle class about them. Perhaps a more interesting observation, though, is how the band takes an intimate, personal musical form – folk – and turns it into something anthemic. Well, not any more. There’s nothing folk about Wilder Mind. Not a single banjo.

The anthems are fewer in number too. Like Noah and the Whale before them, the Mumfords have wholeheartedly waved goodbye to nu-folk and moved their sound Stateside. So, how does it suit them?

If moody soft rock is your thing, five tracks, in particular, should appeal. Surprisingly, for a band so well known for its acoustic foundations it’s Ben Lovett’s electric keyboards that dominate. Opener “Tompkins Square Park” melds slow synth chords with driving rhythms to evoke heartache on a summer’s night. The same is true of the title track; and “Monster” creates a similar atmosphere with guitars. More ambitious, though, are the upbeat keyboards and funky drums of “Just Smoke” which sound a little like the score to a Wes Anderson film. And finally, the album’s highlight is a simple strummed electric-guitar rock ballad called “Cold Arms”.

Unsurprisingly though, working such a mainstream sound also comes at a price. The lead single “Believe”, for instance, has a ponderous, saccharine, Snow Patrol feel. It's not the only one. There's “The Wolf”, a meat-and-potatoes guitar track which barely gets out of first gear. Still, the overall feel is of improvement; and, by the time you get to “Hot Gates” – the song which most echoes their old selves – you are left in no doubt that abandoning the hipster-folkie image was a good thing. It's as adult-orientated rockers that Mumford and Sons seem to have found their niche.

Overleaf: watch the band performing "Believe" live

There’s nothing folk about Wilder Mind. Not a single banjo

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Explore topics

Share this article

Add comment

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters