I try not to review albums too soon after I've first listened to them, which is the reason why this review took almost a month to get in order. Apologies for that.
Anyway, on to the album. I've loved Mumford and Sons ever since I first had "The Cave" recommended to me by a friend. Their sound is really unique while still being rooted in folk influences. Sigh No More was one of my favorite new British releases and I had been eagerly awaiting their second album from the get-go. I'm happy to report that Babel is a worthy follow up to the stroke of brilliance that is Sigh No More.
On this sophomore effort, Mumford and Sons expand upon the themes and sounds of their first album, making a more polished effort, but polished is not a bad thing. There is no denying that Sign No More is very raw, and Babel is definitely a maturing of lyrics and the sound of the band. There is euphoric joy, in songs like Babel and Lover of the Light, and quiet reverent introverted lyricism on Ghosts That We Knew and Not With Haste. However, the real highlight of the album surprisingly enough didn't even make it to the standard edition. There is a lovely cover of Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer", featuring the famed Jerry Douglas and Paul Simon, that I just can't get enough of. It's crazy beautiful. That's not slighting the originals on Babel at all, but this is one of the best covers I have heard in my long standing relationship with covers (And that's saying something, as I used to be a really big Joan Jett fan).
Anyway, the album is sweet and wonderful, but I can't help but think about the early reports that this album was going to have a lot more "doom and gloom" than the finished product. I mean, don't get me wrong please, I love this album and all it's joy, but the only song that could really be classified as "doom and gloom" could be Broken Crown, and maybe Hopeless Wanderer. I have this horrible theory that the record label might have tossed away the angst for some reason. For example, there was a lovely song called Home that was going to be on Babel, and the song was going to be re-named Holland Road. Now Holland Road is a track on the finished project, but it's not Home. There's a lack of the epic angst and fury of some previous cuts. There's nothing like Dust Bowl Dance or I Gave You All, important contributions to their musical stylings.
All in all, a wonderful album that surprised me with all it's euphoria. Give it a listen.