REVIEW: Mumford & Sons “Wilder Mind”


mumfordandsons-wildermindWhen Bob Dylan shocked the world by going electric in 1965, it wasn’t simply a matter of adding electric guitars and a rhythm section to his songs. Dylan fundamentally changed the subject and style and structure of his songwriting along with the new instrumentation. It’s hard to believe that “Blowin’ In The Wind” and “Like A Rolling Stone” were written by the same person.

I realize that setting the bar at Dylan level is unattainably high for any other artist, but the principle remains valid: if you’re going to change your sound, you should adapt your songwriting accordingly.

Sadly I don’t hear that kind of adaptation on Mumford & Sons’ new “electric” album, Wilder Mind. I hear the same kinds of melodies and chord progressions that the Mumfords delighted the world with when they hit the scene in 2009. Except that now it’s louder. And I also hear the same heartfelt ruminations on love and loss and regret and renewal. Except that now, it’s harder to hear them.

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Perhaps it’s different in 2015. Maybe the Mumfords are wise not to change it up too much, given their large and loyal following in a wildly fragmented music market. And surely a track like “The Wolf” stands out by deviating from the “start-quiet-finish-explosive” template of most of these songs, and hints at a new kind of Mumford song.

The best news is that the new instrumentation allows Marcus Mumford to open up the full range of his singing, from an intimate, close-to-the-mike whisper, to a full-on rock roar, and there are few rock singers that come close to his talents. Let’s just keep hoping that moving forward, his songwriting can grow along with his singing.

Release Date: May 4, 2015

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