Mumford & Sons, the beloved folk-rock band whose signature sound of down-home acoustic instruments and uplifting harmonies put them at the top of the Billboard charts with their first two studio albums Sigh No More (2009) and Babel (2012, which earned them an "Album of the Year" Grammy in 2013), have changed things up - pretty drastically.
Some of my favorite M&S tunes via Spotify.
After a five month hiatus from touring to support their second album, Babel, in 2013, Mumford & Sons went into the studio in early 2014 to hunker down and record their third album, Wilder Mind. They collectively decided to abandon their signature (or so we thought) banjo and folk-rock sound and add electric guitars, synthesizers and a full drum kit to evolve their look, feel and sound. According to Marcus Mumford in a March 2 interview with Rolling Stone: "We felt that doing the same thing, or the same instrumentation again, just wasn't for us. We've got a broader taste in music than just that."
In an interview with FasterLouder, Winston Marshall, guitarist (and former banjo player), interviewed that he is "very excited" for Wilder Mind to come out: "It was a lot more enjoyable experience than any of our other records, and I think we’re desperate for people to hear it. It’s kind of strange having people only hear one or two songs. We just want to get the record out there."
Do they recognize some fans of the folk rock sound won't like it? Yup. Do they care? Not so much.
The sound is definitely different. M&S have released four singles to date off their new album Wilder Mind which will be released May 4: "The Wolf," "Believe," "Hot Gates" and "Snake Eyes." (They performed "Believe" and "The Wolf" on Saturday Night Live April 11.) Each song has a bit of a slick, uber-produced sound and feels like more traditional radio rock.
I personally am a little torn. I loved Mumford & Sons' original folksy, earthy sound and the way they used simple instruments and harmonies to tell their stories. I'm going to miss it. But Marcus Mumford's beautiful, soulful voice is the same - and that's half the battle. I will still listen and anticipate whatever they do next.
So take a listen to the new sound of Mumford & Sons (Spotify playlist below) and let me know what you think. Good for them? Bad move? You miss the banjo? Let's hear it!
Rock on my friends.