In­die folk

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Tiar­ney Miekus

Delta Mum­ford & Sons Dew Process/Uni­ver­sal Bri­tish band Mum­ford & Sons pri­mar­ily is known among a crop of in­die acts that, about 10 years ago, made the banjo seem cool again. But if there’s a banjo on this lat­est al­bum, Delta, it’s hard to spot. The group’s fourth re­lease sees a deeper foray into elec­tron­ics and more nu­anced pro­duc­tion — a shift that al­ready started on its 2015 al­bum Wilder Mind. But the move di­vided fans back then and it may di­vide fans even fur­ther now. There is some­thing al­most ten­der about the quar­tet’s new of­fer­ing. Take a song such as Woman, where re­laxed elec­tronic beats drift un­der­neath lay­ered, mel­low har­monies. But when the lyrics cut through, the spell is bro­ken: it’s an­other song about a man ador­ing but fail­ing to un­der­stand an­other per­son — a woman, of course. This in­ter­est in love per­sists through sim­pli­fied lines such as “Love with your eyes, love with your mind” and “Do it for your­self, do it for the girl”.

As key­boardist and vo­cal­ist Ben Lovett has said, the al­bum is about “the four Ds: death, divorce, drugs and de­pres­sion”. It seems like an ac­cu­rate self-as­sess­ment but, 14 tracks later, it also can feel my­opic. Mum­ford has never been par­tic­u­larly strong lyri­cally but some­thing in the band’s neo-folk is known for giv­ing that warm, cine­matic feel. While this is a fleet­ing oc­cur­rence on Delta, when the band fi­nally does tap into the ca­jol­ing folk that made it fa­mous, the songs truly start to seem whole­some. While the group ob­vi­ously can’t keep re­hash­ing its yesteryears, it’s un­clear whether Delta her­alds any ad­vance or whether it’s a folk band try­ing on elec­tronic styles for size. It seems that Mum­ford & Sons wants to move be­yond an Amer­i­cana sound while also in­dulging it — but it’s hav­ing trou­ble do­ing both at the same time.

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