Mumford & Sons took the folk/indie rock scene by storm with 2009 debut album, Sigh No More. Bringing back bluegrass and banjos, they delivered a new wave of acoustic, harmonious music to an easily-influenced pack of hipsters controlling the alternative rock scene. Nearly ten years later, the band is fresh off the release of a new full-length, Delta, packed with poetic lyrics and fanatical, robust new instrumentals.
“42” opens up the record with an echo comprised solely of vocals, a promising whisper by a ghost of folk music’s past: “What if I need you? / In my darkest hour?” Lead vocalist Marcus Mumford shakes hands with vulnerability right from the get-go. And, with that, the bass line is unleashed, the percussive elements flood in, and the song unravels into a foot-stomping whirlwind indicative of what Delta has in store.
“Woman” is the third single off Delta, and very easily my favorite of the bunch. Is it classic Mumford & Sons? No. Is it a little bit more pop-esque? Without a doubt. But I found myself so fond of its lyrics and its underlying simplicity, I couldn’t help but go back and listen to it again and again.
“Say the sun doesn’t shine for you, I hope you learn that that’s not true, in time, when you’re gone again. I don’t know the loneliness you’ve known, I don’t hear the frosty words echo inside when you’re gone again. I can’t read your mind, though I’m trying all the time. There’s something I don’t know, I can see it in your eyes. As the night ascends, all will slow again.”
The backing vocals to “Woman” are comforting, like a hot cup of coffee on a snowy day. Ben Lovett’s inclusion on the drums are a steady breath of fresh air, while Winston Marshall and Ted Dwane carrying the song along via guitar is reminiscent of falling before being caught by a safety net. Basically, it’s just a well-composed song. It’s as simple as that. It sounds great, and the lyrics are perfect for my fellow romantics. I have no doubt that “Woman” will be a fan favorite down the line.
I hate to say it, but the first few tracks of this album captivated me, but the latter few grounded me back a little bit. The fifth song, “The Wild,” starts off simple, like your run-of-the-mill indie number. Although the additions of keys here and there are nice, the final product is nothing to write home about.
Of course I can’t review Delta without mentioning “Darkness Visible.” On this song, Mumford & Sons pair an insanely heavy, in-your-face soundtrack with an excerpt from 17th century poet John Milton’s “Paradise Lost.” The song is certainly a unique, albeit seemingly out of place, inclusion to the album, one that left me scratching my head a bit.
Wrapping things up with title-track “Delta,” over six minutes long and packed with moments of sole guitars, the band provides listeners with ample time to reflect before the drums and bass return, bringing with them a somewhat cheery conclusion to this fourteen-track collection.
Mumford & Sons rose to fame because of their signature sound, a unique vibe that people just flocked to. Delta is nothing like the eerie acoustics fans know and love, but the growth in sonic production with this record is extremely prominent. I think, with time, even the fans who prefer the band’s earlier sound can grow fond of the stories shared on this record. With Delta, Mumford & Sons dropped a warm indie album just in time for a chilly winter, and it’s a new beginning for where Mumford & Sons will take the industry next.
WORDS BY EMILY GORDON