Mumford & Sons’ Wilder Mind: stuck between a rock and a barn place

Posted on 12 May 2015
By Jack McKinley
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A lot has been said of the departure of the wildly strummed Banjos for Mumford and sons album number three. The folk genre that comes along with these Banjos has seen the band’s rise to success ever since 2009’s offering: Sigh No More. However, their gripping and rousing anthems that have set fields and stadiums alight, with their overpowering sing along melodies; have always had a sense of this new rock n roll style seen within Wilder Mind.

The first sound we hear from the new album is that of the much talked about electric guitar, indicating straight from the off, where this album is going. The opening track instantly establishes the bold new direction of the shredded tweed for leather and waves goodbye to the banjos.

The album’s sense of setting is very much within an urban landscape. Firstly the artwork sees the backdrop of London at twilight and we see this murky metropolitan theme replicated in songs Tompkins Square Park and Ditmas, where the influence of New York and London becomes the setting for an industrial pulse of darkened lyrics that depict the differing stages of love. We see these heartfelt words crafted by the song writing being spread across the band, instead of just solely from the mind of Marcus, meaning that for these urban songs, one is that of regret, while the other is of love that is lost.

There has been a great deal made for the change of the banjos for the synthetic sounds on the album, but I believe that the success of the album lies with the kick drum and double bass sailing sail on the same ship as the banjos. An actual drum kit and a bass that is plugged in instead of one that stands upright, gives their new sound much more atmosphere and rhythm, but less originality. It does however, sees more upbeat songs such as The Wolf, where the rolling drums become the catalyst for the band to unleash their inner beast. The drumming only add to the familiar explosive slow burn songs on the previous albums, and Snake Eyes sees an injection of venom that begins tenderly but the anticipation finally overflows and a sheer power of emotion is struck upon us.

The album does fall a little bland in places, and I feel that if the band could of transitioned into this new ‘electric’ album with a little help from the banjo, and somehow combined the two together, which would see the previous ebb and flow of the barn thrashing banjo riffs with the driving beat and the chugging guitars of the new direction, could be a match made in heaven…album number four? However, with that being said, the violin does serves as the main link between rock and folk, as the violin is much closer sonically to the folk genre.

The new sound isn’t easy to digest at first due to how generic it has become, but it is easier than ever to lose yourself in the sound after a few listens, which make for the lyrics to stand out more.

The realistic rawness of the solemn track Monster sees the notion of giving up dreams for one another “so fuck your dreams, and don’t you pick at our seams, I’ll turn into a monster for you, if you pay me enough”. An idea that plays a big part in relationships, but not within lyrics.

Wilder Mind sees Mumford and Sons head in a new direction, which although may not be particularly original and arguably quite generic, the gritty atmosphere of the electric guitar does gives the album a backdrop that suits their melody, but most of all this album sees the band stay strong to their sentimental roots, as the emotion and injection of passion created by and Marcus Mumford’s gravely, gruff vocals give a heartfelt base for the profound lyrics to be related to that still feel very powerful and genuine, and still twang the heart strings just like that of the banjos of before.