Review : Mumford and Sons - Sigh No More
AbsolutepunkOf all the European bands to focus attention on ––– and there are many ––– few are as worthy as the British quartet Mumford and Sons. Founded in 2007 by Marcus Mumford and three of his closest friends, the band's full-length debut Sigh No More is a folk musician's wet dream: a cornucopia of acoustic arrangements, brass accompaniments and a multitude of resplendent crescendos.
Aided by the sturdy vocals of Mumford, the disc opens up with the teetering title track, a quiet exercise that later collapses on top of itself and gives way to a rousing finish. The song also serves as a harbinger of things to come as the dramatic conclusion is repeated in nearly all of the disc's dozen songs. "White Blank Page," is especially potent as Mumford belts, "But tell me now, where was my fault, in loving you with my whole heart." Even at its most crestfallen, the music is so vibrant and rich, the end result is hypnotic and undeniably alluring.
For all its dark and hazy verses (“I’ll go out back and I’ll get my gun / you haven’t met me yet I’m the only son,") Sigh No More is indeed a record about hope. More often than not Mumford sings about compassion and tenderness in the most endearing ways. A sampling of said compassion includes: "But take the spade from my hands and fill in the holes you've made," "I'll find strength in pain and I will change my ways," "And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears," "I won't let you choke on that noose around your neck." Sprinkled into the mix are verses about waning faith, the strength of willpower and armfuls of domestic dysfunction....full text
NmeThe problem of authenticity in folk is as old as the Appalachians. Ever since masters of the form were plucked from under rocks and corralled into chic NYC café venues for the edification of right-on students in the early ’60s, folk has signalled something desirable yet tantalisingly out-of-reach for fed-up inhabitants of the lonesome, crowded west.
Mumford and Sons might sound like the name of a defunct timber supply yard you were sworn off playing around by your mum as a nipper, but in fact it’s the ongoing concern of four young fellows from London; a name that fixes the band in a long tradition of ramblin’, gamblin’ truth-tellers with guitars, and proudly announces authenticity shot through their spindly frames like sticks of rock....full text
BbcLondon’s nu-folk scene has turfed up surprises as unlikely as they’ve been refreshing of late. First we had Laura Marling, displaying a poise and unnerving command of her material that called to mind the best of the 70s troubadour tradition. Then there was Johnny Flynn’s earthy erudition, steeped as it was in folk’s mystical lexicon. And this year Noah & The Whale reconciled their twee approach with a newly-whetted pop savvy and broader sonic palette, transforming into a major-league concern in the process.
Having paid their dues the old-fashioned way as the (superb) on-off backing band for Marling in 2007/08, Sigh No More sees four-piece Mumford and Sons strike out for equally distinctive territory, carving out a mostly winning – if nigglingly naive – debut that deserves an audience to match its impressive convictions. It’s a record deploying a wealth of folk signifiers, from banjos and sighing mandolins to dubious lyrics about how the harvest left no fruit for you to eat, but which in truth shares more genes with the bombastic song progressions of Arcade Fire or even Kings of Leon’s grit ‘n’ shine indie anthemics.
As such, the title-track builds into head-spinning panorama like the ones that greet photogenic tourists reaching a Highland summit in a Scottish tourist board ad – but the view’s secondary to the transcendent feeling it evokes. It’s a fist-pumping formula realised undoubtedly in part through Arcade Fire and Maccabees veteran Markus Drav’s production work, and while much of Sigh No More sounds impressively big as a result – Little Lion Man and Thistle & Weeds are especially massive – it also leaves the band open to sounding portentous when the tunes aren’t up to snuff. I Gave You All is one such howler, singer Marcus Mumford’s vocal howling its impotent rage at a bothersome ex. Hell might hath no fury like a folkie scorned, but do the results have to sound quite so much like JJ72 cast-offs?...full text
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