My Secret Beef With Mumford
Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
A couple days ago, in the we hours of the night, my roommates and I were lounging around a table listening to the latest Mumford & Sons effort, Babel. As my friends began to discuss the merits of the latest effort by the English folk band, I was sitting quietly, trying to muster up enough courage to confess to my roommates a grave secret I had hid for several years.
Finally, I could not withhold the secret anymore, and I blurted it out—“You know, I don’t really like Mumford & Sons that much.”
My roommates were clearly taken aback by the news. After a few moments of silence, one of them finally spoke: “Well, I guess we can still be friends.”
My viewpoint on Mumford & Sons is sort of a personal anomaly. I am, and always have been, an avid lover of folk music. It’s an appreciation that started somewhere during my younger years, when my dad would pump Simon and Garfunkel and Neil Young through the car stereo. As a preteen I started to incessantly study the folk greats, indulging in the likes of Dylan and CSNY. As I got older and realized the power of live music, I started to tap into the contemporary folk market.
It was then when I came across my three favorite bands—the holy trio in my mind—The Avett Brothers, Wilco, and Dawes. What I believe draws me to folk music is the importance of strong lyricism. I saw, and now still see, Seth and Scott Avett, Jeff Tweedy, and Taylor Goldsmith as the most talented songwriters in the game.
Then, in the summer of 2010, a four-piece English folk band came on to the scene, and all my fellow folks fans told me that I had to listen to this new band called Mumford & Sons. Soon enough, the band reached the American radio waves. The Current, St. Paul’s NPR radio station that I consider the crown jewel of Minnesota airwaves, starting playing a slew of singles from the bands debut album, Sigh No More. That entire summer seemed backtracked by the “The Cave,” “Little Lion Man,” and “White Blank Page.”
And as my friends hastily jumped on the M&S back wagon, I was a little hesitant, and found that I still enjoyed Avett’s I and Love and You and Dawes’ North Hills more than this new folk sensation.
I can’t really put my finger on why Mumford & Sons doesn’t connect with my folk sensibilities. I thought at first maybe it was because of the simple fact that most of their songs sound very similar, but that really is the case for most folk bands, especially my favorites.
I guess it’s just that I plain don’t like their sound—perhaps it’s the absence of a drummer or Marcus Mumford’s nasally voice that throws me for a loop.
So has anything changed with the recent release of Babel? With so many critics and friends raving about the new release, declaring it better than their debut, I decided to give it a go. But it seems my views are strong. With Babel, the band stays true to the sound and song structure that originally put them on the map. It seems to be keeping Mumford fans satisfied, but it hasn’t convinced me to flip my stance.
It’s not that I’m a total hater of the band—I’m never going to force someone to shut off “I Will Wait” if it comes over the speakers—I just have a hard time crowning them the king of folk with so many talented and more established acts out there.
In many instances, Mumford gets compared to the Avett Brothers, which is mostly due to their similar sound and performance together at the Grammys two years ago. But this is, to drop a sports reference, like comparing a promising rookie to an established veteran. When Mumford has consistently held a fan base for seven albums, like Avett has done, then we can start to draw comparisons.
Nonetheless, I still have a casual appreciation for their music. I mean, I really do like “Winter Winds.” But maybe that’s because it sounds the least like their other stuff.