Autumn Has Never Sounded So Good: Mumford & Son’s Babel
by Charissa Lock
Breathe in deeply the crisp air and let the swirling feelings of change exhale from your lungs. Warm, chunky sweaters, football hoodies, comfort your welcoming of a different kind of beginnings. Technically Autumn has arrived, but it never seems quite like it without the decoration of changing leaves and inspiration from an album that draws your back to your most treasured memory of this season. Whether it be my recent past Thanksgivings being enveloped in folk-fiddle music, or an internal and subconscious connection between the Fall and banjo strumming, percussion oriented folk rock, but all things fell nicely in place as Mumford & Sons released their sophomore LP, Babel a few days past the first day of Autumn.
Self-titled “Babel” sends you crunching your way underneath the maple and birch trees. Picking up your pace, filled with this abundance of energy as the cool breeze blows through your hair, leaving the summer sweat and humidity behind you. The overwhelming emotion packed behind Marcus Mumford’s vocals is mind-blowing and confident, offering everything you need to bring you to the heart of the woods free from all that contains you, “I know my weakness, know my voice and I believe in grace and choice.” As you settle in, take a seat by a still lake, crumbling building, or take a less familiar path, you are listening for as many reasons as those that brought you here.
The talent involved in Mumford & Sons instrumentation, composition, and melodies is never questioned. Due to the similarities between first 30 seconds of many songs on Babel, you may get a sense of the whole album being an entire “good” creation and wind up ignoring individuality between tracks. This is why the soft, cool, breezes softly creeping through your long sleeves will allow you to maintain a smarter, brisker focus. You want to become a part of this album because you have been waiting for three years and spent countless hours listening to Sigh No More on repeat. The motivation and yearning are what lands you here.
The moments of awe and awakening are what satisfy an almost worried mind. The instrumentation sets the stage for the delicately placed vocals, and as the vocals seem to gain a new level, the instrumentation topples and there’s a beautiful back and forth between the two. There are many times where the vocal melody peaks and drops in such quick succession. It is a delicious sound to your ears (“Reminder,”Lover of the Light”). The colossal and epic bridges and outros are so magnificent on Babel, with almost every song having an ending that is somehow more powerful than the one you just heard before. The bridge to “Below My Feet” almost sent tears streaming down my cool cheeks as background vocals support Mumford as the banjo ceases and you crave to be sucked into the very moment. Though, let’s not forget the sexy distorted guitar that dips in, surprising the hell out of you (in the best way possible). Ironically as you near the final moments of Babel you think of how they remind you a bit of American folk rock and that’s when Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” appears, bringing a smile to your face for they have done a respectable cover.
Your fingers began to numb and you notice the sky has darkened as the sun has begun to sink below tree level. Zipping up your coat a bit more, you have one more track to listen to, “Where Are You Now.” Beautiful harmonies are splattered throughout and the acoustic guitar carries you slowly back down the path from which you came. Your experience was elegantly personal and reflectively inspirational. Mumford & Sons has won you over again, and due to the large track listing and powerful material, you can look forward to the next time in which you will wind up being taken over by Babel and all the emotion and adventure contained within it.
TAGS: Benson Or Daughters, Phenomenal album, expected to sell 600k+, when stars shine bright, fav. new band