|Source: Megan Seekings|
Picture the scene. I'm at uni for a two hour revision session in which I've learnt... not much. Walking through a barely used university building I stumble across a huge poster for Wilder Mind, the new Mumford & Sons album, and an unintentional selfie ensues. I've been a huge fan of the band since the massive airplay that The Cave received during a Brighton hockey tour in 2009 (we travelled in minibuses a lot!) At the end of 2012, I was lucky enough to see the band play a massive show at Nottingham Capital FM Arena following the release of their second record Babel, which propelled the band massively into the mainstream, scoring them their first number 1 record in both the UK and US.
Now, however, that position has been matched by the band's latest offering, Wilder Mind, reaching number 1 last night in the first week of its release. It features the singles The Wolf and Believe, the latter of which was the band's comeback single back in March of this year. The track signalled a departure from what fans had come to think of as the unique sound of Mumford, with the loss of the acoustic guitar, kick-drum and notably the banjo. To some, this was terrible - now, I'm not particularly fond of change, but when it comes to musicians, though being far from an artist myself, I'm aware that creating music requires a lot of passion, and if the artist's aren't getting something out of creating the music then something isn't quite right. Because of that, I'm usually pretty accepting of bands going in a 'new direction' to keep the spark in their music, and for Mumford, it has definitely paid off, and shows the versatility of the band, who are a talented group of musicians. While many were quick to judge the record before its release simply for being different, there are definitely many of the fantastic elements that we're used to, including the superbly penned tracks and chilling lead vocals of Marcus Mumford, with the addition of the full drum kit and electric guitars giving a heavier and more mature sound. In short: I love it.
My high expectations were thankfully met, and the record will probably be one of my favourite's of the year (alongside the new releases from Sam Beeton, Jack Savoretti and Matt Owens, definitely.) I'm particularly fond of the track Broad-Shouldered Beasts, which showcases hints of the progression from the band's 'old sound' to the new, starting slow and quiet, retaining the prominence of the vocals, and progressing into a punchy, sing-along track. Aside form this, however, I find it difficult to separate the other tracks, with nothing standing out particularly - though they're all pretty great and I do enjoy the employment of the eBow on Snake Eyes...
I'm particularly keen to see the band live again, firstly as the huge talent Tom Hobden (of Noah & The Whale) is currently playing with the band on live shows, but also to see how their live performance differs with these new tracks, which will be played directly alongside older singles such as Little Lion Man and I Will Wait. I wish that I could find a way of going along to the band's UK stopover in Aviemore, which has a brilliant line-up including a particular favourite of mine, King Charles, as well as Ben Howard, The Maccabees and many more (info here.)