Marcus Mumford’s leap of faith


The Daily Telegraph - Review - - THE CRITICAL LIST - By Neil McCormick

Mumford & Sons Is­land

Vis­it­ing pro­ducer Paul Ep­worth at Church Stu­dios this year, I was struck by the va­ri­ety of in­stru­ments scat­tered around: along­side dou­ble bass, grand pi­ano, acous­tic and elec­tric gui­tars, there were man­dolins, ac­cor­dions, all kinds of ex­otic folk and per­cus­sive in­stru­ments and a for­mi­da­ble ar­ray of ban­jos. “Have you got Mumford & Sons in here, by any chance?” I asked.

The Mum­fords may be the most un­likely suc­cess story of the mod­ern pop era, an old-fash­ioned quar­tet of folk rock­ers who stand like lud­dites in the path of the all-con­sum­ing elec­tronic dance be­he­moth. Their first three al­bums all topped the tran­sat­lantic charts. For their fourth al­bum, Delta, they have brought in Ep­worth, the pro­ducer be­hind Adele.

You can just about de­tect a new patina of synths and vocoder ef­fects, al­though when the band is at full tilt, you could prob­a­bly hide a kitchen sink in the bliz­zard of sound. This lusty ram­bunc­tious­ness is bal­anced by pas­sages of gen­tle in­ti­macy, with ev­ery­thing drop­ping out to leave shad­ings of per­cus­sion and chords un­der Marcus Mumford’s world-weary vo­cals.

“What if I need you in my darkest hour?” he asks on the open­ing track, 42. Given the band’s back­ground in the Vine­yard church, he pre­sum­ably refers to Psalm 42, which pleads for God to show him­self in a time of po­lit­i­cal trou­ble. A strug­gle be­tween light and dark­ness per­me­ates Delta, and soon a par­tic­u­lar char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion of dark­ness takes hold.

Pic­ture You grap­ples with the on­set of de­pres­sion, cul­mi­nat­ing in a storm­ing coda called Dark­ness Vis­i­ble, af­ter the Amer­i­can au­thor

The Mum­fords may be mod­ern pop’s least likely suc­cess story

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