In essence, Mumford & Sons are an acoustically based, folk rock band. But as the three remarkable EP’s released over the past year, and now this, their debut album proves, the somewhat narrow tag tells only a fraction of the story. Their music is no twee, banjo-twiddling affair, or the wistful outpourings of a lovesick folkie – it’s huge, passionate, broken-hearted and furious. Mumford & Sons are a folk rock band in the Arcade Fire sense. If you’ve seen this band live, you’ll already be a convert. At their best, they have the capacity to be almost spiritually good, to plunge you into a wild emotional whirlpool from which you emerge drained, but joyous. ‘Sigh No More’ is an album that follows suit. Reworked versions of the lead tracks and others from the band’s earlier EPs feature here, alongside a handful of newly recorded efforts, and producer du jour Markus Dravs has lost none of the raw power of the band’s live shows; the songs are bigger than ever. On ‘White Blank Page’, frontman Marcus’ vocals, blistered and suffused with passion, tear out – challenging and accusatory – before a torch-carrying, cathartic climax. And if that is the album’s soul laid bare, then ‘Thistle and Weeds’ is its throbbing heart, building from a quiet trickle, to surge and flood. The strength of the songwriting is stunning. One or two quieter moments provide some relief from the emotional intensity but in ‘Sigh No More’ the band have produced an album that is forged in fire, hope and tragedy on a biblical scale. Folk rock is violently, unpredictably alive, and Mumford & Sons are its flag-bearing masters.

By Chris Watkeys

More from
« Previous Album