Album Review: Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More [Favourite Gentlemen]
London folk outfit Mumford & Sons (so called after lead-man Marcus Mumford, though Rivmixx is fairly sure his band-mates are not his sons) cut their teeth as the Mercury-nominee Laura Marling‘s backing band.
This, their debut album, sees the group emerge from the Marling’s formidable shadow and pull together a surprisingly cohesive collection of well-crafted, delightfully melodic folk-pop gems. Whereas the group’s nearest contemporaries (the excellent Johnny Flynn etc.) are still plying their trade in the occasionally quagmire-ish folk scene, Mumford & Sons seem to have succeeded in achieving that folk holy grail – appealing to both the NME crowd and the bearded jumper-wearers.
In some ways this is slightly baffling – Flynn and Marling are both superb song-writers and all three folkies have embraced the gleaming production that can also be found on ‘Sigh No More’. However, Mumford have found a way to work pop hooks and a rock ‘n’ roll edge into their music without betraying the purists. It also helps that they sing mainly about affairs of the heart as opposed to dancing a jig on St. Swithin’s days.
Instead what we’re offered is a cosy, winter-ready collection of intimate ballads and glowing sing-alongs with “an edge” ™. Lead single, ‘Little Lion Man’ – a guilt-wracked, Pogues-esque anthem of admission – brings folk song crashing into the 21st century, ‘The Cave’ strays into indie territory, all catchy hooks and twanging guitars, before a banjo fantastically eradicates such initial conceptions. There are quieter moments to be had too, ‘I Gave You All’ echoes with introspective nights spent indoors before building into a desperate monster of a tune.
Fortunately, all this regret has not been allowed to cast a gloomy shadow over ‘Sigh No More’ and it’s much more of a joyously cathartic record than the lyrical content would initially suggest. Wrap up warm, dig out your chapsticks and worm your headphones around your complicated coat-scarf arrangement.
Written for Rivmixx