Every music artist and band should learn to adapt. Everyone has the right to change. Fashions come and go and it’s up to musicians to keep up with the times, or to carve their own path. How else do you achieve longevity without boring your fans?
Yet the best artists are able to adapt whilst retaining the essence of their sound, their heart and soul. That’s something Mumford and Sons have failed to achieve with ‘Wilder Mind’, the band’s third album. Admittedly nobody wants another album of twangy banjo tunes, yet in their pursuit of something new the quartet have turned themselves into a mediocre Coldplay tribute band.
Remember the days of uptempo sing-alongs? Bouncing around at Festivals to the frantic rhythms of The Cave or I Will Wait? Those days are over.
Instead, ‘Wilder Mind’ presents an album of dreary guitar tunes. There are elements of Bruce Springsteen, U2 and The Smiths, but equally every other 00s indie band you can think of as Marcus Mumford whines down a microphone over stadium guitars. The rhythm section may have been beefed out thanks to session drummer James Ford, but every song shuffles along in a monotonous dirge.
Even the lyrics are depressing. “The world outside just watches as we crawl towards a life of fragile lines and wasted time”, Mumford sings on Ditmas. That’s exactly how you’ll feel listening to this album: why am I wasting my time with this when I could be listening to something with originality, excitement and a soul?
Maybe we should be feeling sorry for him. Clearly he’s upset about something, but what? Have the band consciously uncoupled from the banjo? Or maybe he’s just snapped his banjo string?
Listen: ‘Wilder Mind’ is available now.