Mumford & Sons make the case for being not seen and not heard


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The Independent Culture

There has been much whooping over the announcement that banjo-loving folkies Mumford & Sons have reached an “indefinite hiatus”. Mumford-bashing has, of course, become something of a national sport. Look at them with their private educations and their Wurzels’ waistcoats, the daft chumps!

Personally, I am baffled by the vitriol directed towards a band that has had the gall to take a commercially marginalised genre and turn it into a unit-shifting phenomenon. Apparently, their biggest crimes are having been born on the right side of the tracks and making a ton; of money. I mean, jeez, who would want that?

Yet, at this point, taking a lengthy break might just be their greatest career move. Because while they have done little to deserve such ridicule (even Liam Gallagher has had a pop: “They look like fucking Amish people,” said the 40-year-old with a 17-year-old’s haircut), their biggest mistake is to have been forever in our faces.

They say familiarity breeds contempt; rarely has this been truer than in the case of the Mumfords. If they haven’t been playing every festival and touring every town in the past four years, they’ve been loitering on red carpets, marrying famous actresses and sweeping the boards at awards ceremonies. Even when they were off conquering America and schmoozing the Obamas at the White House, they were omnipresent back home, rarely off the radio, on every TV trail and beetling back and forth to headline yet more festivals. There came a point, late last year, when I fully expected to open my wardrobe and find them playing a gig in there.

Mumford & Sons aren’t the first band to have suffered the effects of over exposure. You may recall the critical acclaim for Coldplay and Florence & The Machine gradually turning to haughty dismissal, mostly by dint of their ubiquity. Both became the musical equivalent of bindweed, unstoppable and impossible to ignore. And let’s not forget R&B star Rihanna, who can barely get through a week without releasing an album, playing a few stadiums and posting a picture of her arse cheeks on Twitter.

In the age of digital media, and a seemingly limitless number of channels through which an artist may flog their wares, it’s perhaps assumed that full-on saturation is the only way to ensure longevity in a fickle industry. I’m all for a strong work ethic but perhaps it’s time our pop stars such as Marcus Mumford (left) learnt to recognise when less is more. Take a break, guys. You deserve it.

Twitter: @FionaSturges