Mumford & Sons: Babel
Style: Brawny yet delicate banjo-rock; compare to The Avett Brothers, The Lumineers
Top tracks: "Babel," "I Will Wait," "The Ghosts That We Knew"
The expectations couldn't be higher for the follow-up to Mumford & Sons' multi-platinum debut, Sigh No More. But Babel towers, built with even more uninhibited energy that captures the band's live passion. These are tales both instantaneous and epochal, flowing with biblical imagery and eternal grapplings. They pulse with hymnodic grandiosity and the sweeping rapture of barroom singalongs from which hymns evolved. The opening title track declares, "I'll believe in grace and choice." The literal benediction is "Do not let my fickle flesh go to waste / As it keeps my heart and soul in its place / And I will love with urgency but not with haste." "Broken Crown" wrestles most darkly with regret, defiance and redemption (dropping several f-bombs). Yet the collection conveys palpable and romantic hope while owning failure and pain. If there's a nitpick, it's that there isn't more experimentation, but the band embraces its strengths and soars confidently.
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