Mumford & Sons’s “‘Babel’ isn’t revolutionary, nor memorable as a whole”

Micah Osler, Print news editor

Mumford & Sons’s new album, Babel,” isn’t revolutionary, nor is it especially memorable, at least as a whole. Then again, it doesn’t really need to be.

The album starts off with the wall of guitar and banjo we’ve come to expect from Mumford & Sons, and it takes about three songs to quiet down. Along the way, we hear the album’s first single – “I Will Wait,” which could have slipped unnoticed onto Sigh No More – and a whole lot of scratchy singing. In short, this is the band that we’ve become accustomed to over the last few years, and apparently international stardom hasn’t changed them one bit.

Things get quieter after that, though. “Holland Road” builds to a peak again, but it takes longer, and the sixteen minute, three-hit punch of “Ghosts That We Know”/”Lover of the Light”/”Lover’s Eyes” is rousing, if a bit boring by the end. “Lover of the Light” is a particularly amazing cut, one of the few that manages to sound slightly different than the others without deviating excessively from the basic sound.

The rest of the album is a return to the earlier form, with some slight variations. In particular, album closer “Not With Haste” is reminiscent of Coldplay’s seminal “’Til Kingdom Come,” in a very good way. On the whole, the album varies between some sonic extremes, but never strays too far from the formula that brought the band fame in the first place.

So, the larger question: is there enough new here to merit buying the entire album?

If you’re a bit touchy about Mumford & Sons and find that the only thing on Earth worse than the banjo is a muted horn section, you should not buy this album.

If you listen only to music outside of the “mainstream,” you should not buy this album.

If you want an evolutionary new album that pushes the band into a new direction, you should not buy this album.

However, if you like Mumford & Sons’ previous work and want more, you should buy this album. You won’t be disappointed.