As you probably already know Mumford & Sons released a new album recently. Despite the humble approach of the band this 'Best New Artist' of 2011 could not have released an album quietly. The media spoke for them mostly in an effort to predict if they could build off of the success of Sigh No More.
Before I get into how I felt about Babel after a few listens I want to list a few common opinions that I have heard over the past few weeks:
- The album is different than Sigh No More
- There is much more 'lightness' to the album than the 'darkness' that is the main driver of Sigh No More
- I like their first album better.
- They have changed since their first album and I don't like them anymore.
- This is newer and fresh so I like it more than Sign No More
When an album is so successful it is hard not to judge the new release by its predecessor. In general it is hard not to judge current success based on past performance. I have caught myself continuously beginning to form an opinion with the root of the opinion being a comparison to their first album.
The thing is that bands are suppose to change. Art is an expression of our feelings, influences and experiences which will always change as we grow. Therefore if what an artists produces is natural and true to who they are their growth will manifest itself in their output.
In all this I am not saying that Mumford & Sons had a drastic change. At their core they are still pretty much the same band. However, it feels like a double standard to say we want you to produce something great and authentic but we will judge you based what you created in your past. So many bands get ripped for just putting out a product to sell records and make money yet we judge them based on what we have heard before and liked. Isn't is possible that if Babel sounded just like Sigh No More our critizisms would have skewed towards them being a 'one trick pony' or 'being fake' by repeating the sound/influences of Sign No More?
So in saying all of this I want to emphisize that I do not know which album is better. Maybe time will tell. One album could stand the test of time while the other faulters. Both could last but one could seperate itself from the other. Or maybe, like most music, five years from now the band itself will only be a memory. Either way I want to look at Just Babel and not try to figure out how it ranks against Sign No More (or against whatever comes next).
In the impossible vaccum I am trying to create I have come up with a very generic, bland opinion.....this is a really good album. There are some very light, up beat songs that lift you up and some very dark songs that tear you down. Listen after listen I have very much enjoyed THIS album. It probably isn't the album of the year or even in contention but I really like it and I think the majority of readers (all 4 of you) out there (regardless if you think I am full of it or not) will enjoy killing an hour with Babel.
I Will Wait
Holland Road (probably my #1 so far on this album)
Below My Feet