Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Mumford And Sons- Sigh No More : Review

Folk is big right now. Not folk in its traditional sense you understand, but a bastardised version of it. The kind of folk that isn’t really folk at all but is just indie music with more mandolins. This is the sort of folk that no one would have been able to make if Dylan hadn’t gone electric. The sort of folk that would have Pete Seeger spinning in his grave. Gone are songs about ferry disasters and polo neck jumpers. The new wave of ‘indie folk’ is all about plimsolls, wet lips and heartbreak. Mumford and Sons are the latest group to join the scene, hopping into bed with such sensitive souls as Johnny Flynn, Laura Marling and Fleet Foxes.

‘Sigh No More’ is their debut album and very pleasant it is too. On first listen it doesn’t sound like it’s going to break away from the old school folk template. The four part harmonies and track names like ‘Thistle and Weeds’ make this sound like the perfect album to listen to in a cottage on a snowy day.

Listen closely though and it is far from twee. There is a real darkness that runs through Marcus Mumford’s lyrics. Second track ‘The Cave’, for example, features the line “I wont let you choke on the noose around your neck” This isn’t traditional folk imagery. If you separated the lyrics from ‘Winter Winds’ from the folk instrumentation you would never be able to tell that it was a folk song. The refrain “And my head told my heart let love grow, but my heart told my head this time no” is a plain and simple tale of urban heartbreak. It could be sung by any indie band out there. The instrumentation is often aggressive and animal like, furthering separating the band from the old school folkers.

Observe the pounding drums on ‘Roll Away Your Stone’ or Country Winston’s frantic banjo playing and gutteral howling on ‘Dustbowl Dance’ and just for a second you can convince yourself that you’re listening to something far more rock and roll. It’s official; folk is sexy and Mumford and Sons are the proof.

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