ith the biggest opening week debut of any artist of 2012, and already on its way to becoming one of the hottest albums of the year, Mumford and Sons are already on a blazing path with their new album “Babel.”
In its first week of sales, “Babel” dominated, with 600,000 sales, nabbing a number one spot on Billboard 200. This feat made veteran bands like Green Day and No Doubt look complacent in their own first week sales.
“Babel,” like “Sigh No More,” has the distinctive vocals and instruments that set Mumford and Sons apart from other bands. However, Mumford and company have slightly overused their unique formula on “Babel.” The album’s weaker tracks, such as “Holland Road,” become somewhat second-rate when placed next to tracks like “Hopeless Wanderer” and “Babel.” The stronger tracks on “Babel” have their own individuality that mashes successfully together with Mumford and Sons’ style. This theory is a classic symptom for extremely unique artists: their songs pit against each other, and meeker tracks topple quickly.
Several “Babel” tracks are members of the “Five Minutes Club,” which is a fancy way of saying that the track exceeds five minutes. None of the five-minute songs on “Babel” need as much length as they are given. One beautiful track, “Ghosts That We Knew,” needed a minute chopped off and would have been even more exceptional. But, the track carries with the same two riffs on the banjo, with a slight build-up that becomes close to inconceivable because of the long, winding beginning.
True Mumford and Sons fans know that tracks like “Broken Crown” aren’t new to the scene, but the polished and smooth production and mixing gives them the fresh new glow they deserve. “Below My Feet” is interesting, propelling and perhaps the only track with religious implications; but the track feels a little empty with the small bout of lyrics to its large production.
One of the best tracks on the album is the smallest: “Reminder” doesn’t have time for a slow build-up, but leaves you wanting more. However, the best song seems to happen closer to the end of the album: “Hopeless Wanderer.” The track breaks away from the rest of the album with a twinge in the lyrics and vocals that draws the listener forward. “Hopeless Wanderer” features the best breakdown in “Babel” and the best transition to a higher-tempo structure of all the tracks on the album.
An implored suggestion to Mumford and Sons: please invent new chord arrangements for your banjo. Every time the banjo appears, it seems to be the same horse-racing clippity-clop. The same three chords wears a listener out after five tracks due to its similar arrangement.
Mumford and Sons, like Florence & The Machine, have formulated their own unique sound, which, in turn, has appealed towards a certain market. Mumford’s modernized sense of rock, country, blues, indie and pop has appealed to massive audiences and has swatted the hearts of thousands. Although they may not appeal to just anyone, Mumford and Sons know listeners will swoon when they pluck their banjos.