After the success of ‘Sigh No More’, with it being one of the best albums of the year, it made me wonder how would London’s popular folk band follow up? It’s been seen before, where popular bands have tremendous first albums, only to fall apart completely at the second hurdle. Good to know though, that Mumford and Sons’s follow-up to their first album is a good album, that is worth listening to.
It’s hard not to compare to their first album, but I find it interesting to make comparisons. Mumford and Son’s first album started off on a quieter note, harmonies coming in to draw the listener in, before building up to the energy that they so easily demonstrate in their music. ‘Babel’ however, goes straight in, starting with a fast pace, and it’s hard not to be suddenly drawn in, rather than lulled in with the previous album. It’s a good move, as it reaffirms an idea that they are not repeating the success of their first album, but rather developing the ideas and skills they had learned from it.
There is a balance between mellow songs, dark songs and more joyous songs. From a person view, I find the more mellow songs, or the darker ones as well to be the highlights of the album. That isn’t to say that the joyous songs aren’t good. Rather the opposite, they’re the best they’ve ever been. It could be argued that there isn’t a weak song on the album. Each one demonstrates wonderful writing talent, and each is a joy to listen too.
My personal highlights from the album have to be ‘Ghosts That We Knew’, which introduces the album’s more mellower side, and starts off on a beautifully quite note, before ever so slowly building up to a wonderful sound of guitar, banjo and multiple voices singing in harmony. ‘Reminder’ echoes back to the same purpose that ‘Timshel’ served on the first album, but by no means is it a copy. If it could be compared to any song from the first album, it’d be the chorus of ‘After The Storm’, but that is for you to judge. ‘Hopeless Wanderer’ is also another brilliant song on the album, that is once again, one of the more mellower songs on the album (at first). Opening with a piano, accompanied by the guitar, it has a wonderful build up with wonderful lyrics that can only be expected of Mumford and Sons. One of the darker songs, ‘Broken Crown’ has some of their best writing and best instrumentation, that cannot be ignored, despite being a more sombre affair.
Overall, the album is highly impressive, but perhaps it could be argued that it doesn’t quite pack the same punch that ‘Sigh No More’ did. It is a worthy follow up, and certainly paves the way for what will be their highly anticipated third album. Perhaps it’s because ‘Sigh No More’ took everyone by surprise, that nobody had heard anything from the London band before, that helped elevate it to the level of success and regard it holds today. ‘Babel’ lives in the shadow of it’s predecessor and it can’t be helped that they be compared. It’s one of those things that seems to happen to successful bands on their second album. But it is by no means a poor album, just because it follows ‘Sigh No More’. ‘Babel’ is a wonderful second album, that is definitely worth your consideration.
- ★★★★☆ 4/5
- Ghosts That We Knew
- Hopeless Wanderer
- Broken Crown
Thank you for reading.