Mumford and Sons’ Believe ★★★

I don’t even know if I believe…everything you’re trying to say to me’

GIMMICKY, LOST, and full of predictable, cliched lyrics, it is not a great start to the Mumford and Sons new album.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a Mumford and Sons fan. Take a trip down memory lane and our ears are blessed by the seemingly revolutionary sounds (in the UK at least) of a take on American folk music; banjos, pianos, guitars, cellos, violins allowing for the band to play with iconic musical stars such as Arcade Fire, Beirut, Johnny Flynn and the Vaccines. Famed for their trademark songs containing soft acoustic beginnings that crescendo into an explosion of wonderfully collaborated acoustic sounds, their newest song ‘Believe’ shows a deviation away from their norm…and what a disappointment.

There is a risk for an artist to become a one-trick pony if they don’t experiment with other genres. But what if that pony’s trick is so magnificent that people love watching it over and over again, like listening to Billy Joel’s ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ on repeat, or watching any Liam Neeson film – they are good at what they do and people enjoy them consistently. Artists establish themselves based on their mastery over a specific and focussed genre. Mumford and Sons’ charm was created through their mastery of folk, Marcus’s unique voice and the very fact that electricity did not feature in their songs.

‘Believe’ strips Mumford and Sons of their previous appeal. Indeed, the surge of artists and bands who have donned a ‘no-electric’ approach to their music might have spurred Mumford and Sons to adopt the electric guitars and relatively synthesised voice in a bid to differentiate themselves; however, the band had produced two very good albums with just raw instruments and vocals, and are famed for it – why change? I am not anti-electric and I feel, when done well, it sounds great – the likes of Radiohead, Dire Straits and Led Zeppelin (the artists who inspired Mumford and Sons new sound) all create inspirational music based on the electric guitar. However, this first song of the (former?) folk band hasn’t hit point, either lyrically or musically.

The band have said that they were always leading towards an electronic approach; but Mumford and Sons are going to need a hidden gem in the Wilder Mind album in order to prove that they can make the genre work for them.

A band established and famed for folk music taking a turn to electronic is a massive risk. This first song hasn’t worked well for them, but with an entire album still to come, lets hope the originality, charm and intricacies of the former Mumford and Sons can come into the fore.

 

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3 comments

  1. mrbaseballnerd · March 19, 2015

    And why can’t they have a hidden gem? Or a whole mine of them? I was disappointed with this particular song. It seemed like a “Sigh No More” or “Not With Haste.” slow type One that will not be very popular on the album or be very good in quality. I can still hear the roots of the band in the second part of the song, but instead of the riff of banjos its the strum of electric guitar. I think this album will unseat people’s doubts about the quality of their electric side. Sure, I love to death their folk side. But a change in style is not necessarily a change in who they. Even if they don’t believe it themselves.

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  2. mrbaseballnerd · March 19, 2015

    who they are*

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  3. neighbourhoodnoise · March 19, 2015

    Completely agree with you. I am just mostly disappointed with the song as a stand alone piece. You can hear roots of the band in it, but the essence of what makes Mumford and Sons brilliant is not there. Ultimately, I feel this song is an obvious statement that the band are trying to get away from their previous image, and this message comes across in a ‘trying really hard’ sort of way hence it being gimmicky. I do really want the rest of the album to work, and I do welcome change for any artist…but there is a big risk that the change will flop. I hope it doesn’t!

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