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Mumford & Sons

Babel

Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 17:10

It looks like "Babel" has reached the top after all — the album, that is.

 The sophomore work from the English folk rock band Mumford & Sons has exploded to the top of the Billboard 200 charts and currently has sold the most albums in the U.S. and U.K. for 2012.

 But "Babel" isn't just a financial success. It's a beautifully cryptic masterpiece, full of original poetry that blends the sacred with the secular. For those knowledgeable in biblical philosophy, the sacred side is obvious. Take a line from the title track for example: "Like the city that nurtured my greed and my pride/I stretch my arms into the sky."

But there is nothing preachy about the album because Mumford contrasts his spirituality with an equal dose of humanity in a way that is understandable to those who aren't familiar with biblical prose. This is evident in the more traditional relationship drama “Lover of Light,” where he pleads with his lover to “Love the one you hold/And I will be your gold/To have and to hold/A lover of the light.”


Though the lyrics are the fuel, the music is quite a solid engine. In an industry that is choked with digitalized vocals, excessive distortion and unoriginal instruments, Mumford & Sons use of mandolins, banjos, resonator guitars and accordions is a refreshing, cool breeze to the ear. Likewise, Marcus Mumford's raw, gravely vocals blended with the uncut backup vocals further draw out the emotions that lie in the lyrics. There is something about the lack of Auto-Tune that authenticates their sound.

For those who aren’t huge fans of Mumford & Sons, “Babel” may be a bit of a rehashing of their last album — wild rhythm changes, puzzling poetry and enough folksy instruments to make one wonder what century they are in. No doubt many new listeners will question what the fuss is about. But the band stuck to their guns — they didn’t sell out lyrically or musically — and they have delivered a genuine dose of Mumford once again, which will thrill their fans.

Plus, a similar vibe is an excusable con since their lyrics and style are unrivaled in mainstream music. Who else on the Top 40 pens songs asking to “tame my flesh and fix my eyes” and desires a “tethered mind freed from lies,” all amid the backdrop of a banjo?

Grade: A- 

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