Following on from a multi-platinum debut album, Mumford & Sons bring us their latest compilation, Babel. Filled with big choruses, elegant harmonies and a heap of banjo. Babel captures the ferocious live energy of the four-piece band, as well as their tenderness. Despite its beauty, this album has listeners divided. Many fans have warmed to the folk rock music of the English quartet, but others scoff at the lack of variation in their musical repertoire.
As the album flows through, at times sounding remarkably similar to the debut album Sigh No More, tracks such as Babel offer a rousing opening for what is to come. A blend of blissful and upbeat rhythms, coupled with dark and self-depreciating lyrics, Babel is a perfect accompaniment to a joyous spring day.
Despite spending the best part of the last three years touring feverishly, band members Marcus Mumford (lead vocalist), Ben Lovett (keys, accordion, drums), Ted Dwane (string bass, drums, guitar) and Winston Marshall (banjo, guitar) have showed no signs of slowing down.
Winston Marshall’s skillful banjo playing is employed throughout the album to impressive heights. In fact probably used more frequently across Babel than their debut album. Whispers in the Dark is one of the many banjo-layered hymns, possessing the characteristics of many genetic folk anthems. The popularization of the banjo within the music of other artists, such as Noah and the Whale and Johnny Flynn can sometimes be overkill. But it seems that the Mumford & Sons boys have just scraped through.
Lacking the crescendo the album is building up to, tracks Below My Feet and Not With Haste fizzle out and miss the mark. Unfortunately their tempo does not compare to the liveliness and exuberance of the few opening tracks, which could have made for an explosive ending. Despite its minor short falls, Babel is a quality collection of songs and an impressive album.