Album: Mumford & Sons, Bable (Island)

 

In their short existence, Mumford & Sons have become one of the most reviled bands in the country, a convenient lightning rod for class hatred, and scapegoats for the blanding of British music. They’ve also become ruddy popular with masses of people who don’t care about such considerations and enjoy their undemanding folk-pop.

Who’s got it right? While it cannot be denied that the Mumfords will be among the first up against the wall come the Glorious Day, this critic cannot in all honesty say, with a clear conscience, that their second album is absolutely terrible. Because it plain isn’t.

After the quadruple-platinum, America-conquering Sigh No More, what you get is more of the same: raspy sub-sub-Tom Waits vocals, quasi-religious lyrics about “the Lord” and “seeing the Light”, banjos that skip along like sunlight glinting off the waves, and melodies that do the sort of rousing, route-one stuff no one complains about when it’s Arcade Fire doing it. And, on the “deluxe” edition, a horribly earnest cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer”.

It’s not meant for the likes of me, and I never want to hear it again in my life. But those who do? I can’t entirely fault them.

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