To say Mumford & Sons’ success is anything less than huge would be an understatement; the London folk-rock outfit has been sweeping the world with their no-place-like-home ambience and dynamite explosiveness since 2007, and they are far from finished. With their debut Sigh No More and follow-up record Babel, they firmly solidified their spot on the charts worldwide. Now with their 2015 release Wilder Mind, Marcus Mumford and his colleagues have turned their dramatic, foot-stomping sound into an elegant, toe-tapping alternative with a stronger rock-based core.
Before the release date, numerous reviews for Wilder Mind were in awe of the band’s decision to ditch the banjos, and instead plug in their guitars, synthesizer (it’s very discrete) and bass. Even though the instrumentation has been altered, their core roots and musical values have fortunately remained unchanged; they’re still singing about passionate love, and family.
The band’s signature song structure (quiet, intense opening featuring Marcus Mumford’s raspy, unique vocal style, gradually building up into a massive full band explosion) returns on Wilder Mind for a few songs (“Ditmas“, “Only Love” come to mind). But what makes this new album refreshing and exciting is they’ve also reconstructed their recipe for song writing – even the songs that follow Mumford & Sons standardization have a different flare since going the new route. “Wild Mind” and “Just Smoke” flaunt the band’s rock-influence direction, leaving little room for acoustic instruments, and tons of room for volume.
Opening track “Tompkins Square Park” filters out the folk influences, leaving behind a beautiful rock track supported by a subtle hook. “Believe”, the lead single from Wild Mind, follows suit by harnessing the power of the electric guitar, and the expansive potential of “plugging-in”. Already one of the best songs of the year, “The Wolf” is a blistering performance from the quartet; instantly bellowing their instruments, the up-chorus, down-verse style of the song fluctuates the intensity, adding a degree of playfulness amongst the powerfully passionate folk rock song.
Aforementioned tracks “Snake Eyes”, “Ditmas ”, “Broad-Shouldered Beasts” and “Only Love” are slow and elegant to start, but eventually break into the traditional crescendo style, this time without banjos, and instead fast strumming guitars. You could go as far to say album-closing track “Hot Gates” resembles the grandiose charisma of early Coldplay. They’ve still wield their power with immense accuracy, but distribute it evenly throughout the album, rather than hold it in until the climax.
Using the electric guitar as a parallel to an acoustic, Mumford provides a beautiful, sincere solo performance with “Cold Arms”; the lead singer’s rustic vocals match perfectly with the ringing and smooth strumming of the guitar.
Wild Mind is a wonderful surprise to the band’s discography. Stencilling on the raw, unfiltered Mumford & Sons quality onto a fresh, blank page of transformation, the London band are continuing to impress and entertain with their third album. Moving swiftly between loud, soft, and everything in between, Wild Mind is a must-have from this year’s releases. Stream the deluxe version of the album via Spotify (courtesy of Exclaim).