It’s not very often that you’ll find banjos and mandolins as part of the top album on iTunes, but Mumford & Sons’ second album, Babel, has stolen the spot with little competition in sight.
Released Sept. 21 and competing with other recent releases including Green Day’s ¡Uno! and Good Music’s Cruel Summer, Babel quickly soared to the top of the charts.
The folk genre has made an incredible revival in the past several years with the popularity of the Lumineers, Milo Greene and Of Monsters and Men, but it has been Mumford & Sons leading the way.
Casual listeners of the band may struggle to hear much difference between this new album and their debut studio album, Sigh No More, from 2009.
Mumford’s distinct strumming pattern, delicate riffs and tight harmonies, which fans will recognize from past singles “Little Lion Man” and “The Cave,” are even more present on this sophomore album, polished to the point of perfection.
Produced by Markus Dravs, who has worked with Mumford & Sons before, as well as acclaimed bands Coldplay and Arcade Fire, Babel seeks to capture the live music experience, putting the listener in the heart of the performance venue and letting every note ring in just the right fashion.
The band branches out with instrumentation this album, as well, featuring horn sections and some electric guitar to add an almost-grunge-like texture to some pieces.
Lyrically, the album matures as well. While keeping with their favorite topic of unrequited love, Mumford brings in aspects of his evangelical Christian upbringing to add a new feel to the content.
The most appealing part of this album is that it truly is a diverse collection of songs, while still remaining unified.
Every single track has favorite-on-the-CD potential depending on the listener’s taste.
Those looking for the classic Mumford & Sons finger picking banjo solos will appreciate the fanfare in “I Will Wait.”
If you’re favoring a more acoustic sound listen to the brief but powerful “Reminder.”
The rock anthem of the album would be “Below My Feet,” with wailing choruses and brash instrumental breaks.
It’s safe to say that Mumford & Sons have managed to hit the nail on the head again with Babel. It’s got a hint of Grammy potential and proves that they have found the formula to making hits without sacrificing artistic integrity for the genre they most believe in.
All that is left to see is if they’ll be able to keep the momentum for whatever they have in store next.