Standing in the Crowd
Their new album has only been out a few weeks, but Mumford & Sons already leapt straight to the top of Billboard’s Artist 100 chart, which captures a wide range of data including top charts, sales and social influence. With a start like that coinciding with the release of their third studio album, Wilder Mind, what’s there left to say? Well. Though a great record, Mumford & Sons’ latest plays more like the rest of the solid rock bands out there and less like themselves.
Wilder Mind is above all a standard, straight-ahead rock album with certain stand-out tracks. “Believe,” for example, begins with a wash of background string and synth sounds with a barely discernable pulse and Marcus Mumford’s vocals, the perfect setup for the lyrics: “I don’t even know if I believe everything you’re tryin’ to say to me.” Adding in more background sounds, a sudden punch of electric guitar breaks the glass and the tune finishes out with the full band, managing to sound even more desperate. The tune has both the creativity in the first half and the satisfaction of a surprise payoff.
“Just Smoke” has a mixed meter, alternating between simultaneous guitar ostinatos in six and a strongly demarcated chorus in four with a bigger band. A shuffley beat using bass drum, snare and light rim shots on “Monster” are interesting, as is “Broad-Shouldered Beasts” with a tambourine-featuring chorus reminiscent of the 60s. But “Tompkins Square Park,” “Snake Eyes” and the majority of the album’s full-steam ahead electric, classic rock band setup are all just a bit too homogenized. In other words, Wilder Mind fades back into the fabric of a lot of other music.
Mumford & Sons set the bar high. For diehard fans, this may be a little too much like everything else, with electric instruments pervasive throughout. It just lacks the energy and the unique country-rock vibe and sound which catapulted “I Will Wait” to the forefront of people’s minds several years ago. Wilder Mind is a great album, with tracks for grooving, tracks evoking visceral reactions, ones perfect for driving–all the stuff good music is made for. Let’s just hope this one doesn’t get lost in the crowd.