Popular rock music today is a difficult genre to be sure. While hip hop seems to be the dominant radio music genre, breaking in with rock isn’t always easy. More difficult, however, is breaking into the popular music genre while still being taken seriously by the people who take music seriously. Mumford and Sons is a British folk band that seems to bring about arguments between those who like rock and those who love it. Those that prefer rock as their genre but don’t dig too deep into the indie scene see Mumford and Sons as fresh, new, and intriguing. While those who dig into the indie scene like a hobo in a dumpster see Mumford and Sons as a bland and boring band with a gimmick. I fall somewhere in between, while I like some of the music on “Sigh No More” I do feel that the other songs are overplayed and simple.
“Sigh No More” is an easy to listen to album, and more in a way that hurts it overall. The songs are simple, no doubt, and that is what folk should be. Folk music isn’t supposed to be overly complex and crazy but that doesn’t mean it can’t be innovative or experimental rather than typical. The songs, overall, come off as very similar. There’s the drum that kicks in, the banjo that goes wild, and the lyrics that build to a powerful climax. Like “The Cave” and “Little Lion Man” have shown the world, Mumford and Sons can make a song that will get people involved and listening. The first time you hear one of their singles you’re enticed, it’s interesting and the folk background with the English accent make for an enjoyable mix. However, after a few listens those particular songs start to lose their flare.
This is where my rant begins, of sorts. Many albums today lack flow, cohesion, and any sense of need. By need I mean that when is the last time you thought you actually needed to purchase an entire album rather than buy a song or two? I don’t mind the ala cart methodology that iTunes has given us all but sometimes it just sucks. People miss out on an entire album because they want to buy two or three songs that are labeled as “singles” and therefore sell more. So what’s that got to do with “Sigh No More”? Well for starters some of my favorite songs on the album are the ones that aren’t considered singles and have the least amount of downloads on iTunes.
Songs like “White Blank Page”, “Thistle and Weeds”, and “Dustbowl Dance” are really great songs filled with powerful emotions. The songs show Mumford and Sons bringing out a side of them that is probably nonexistent to many listeners who only listen to the handful of sons deemed “popular”. Sure, their singles are fun songs that get right to the essence of the band but the other songs are important too. Imagine taking apart an album from The Beatles and picking out two or three songs, then ditching the rest. It’s similar to the difference of using an entire animal in a meal rather than one piece, far too much goes to waste and is never fully appreciated.
As a whole I think “Sigh No More” is a pretty interesting album when looked at as a whole. What’s odd is that the songs that don’t get any love are the ones I really enjoyed. Those were the ones that stood out, and that’s probably because the other ones are so overplayed that their sounds have died out and their edge has been lost. Mumford and Sons is an intriguing band, they have an alt-rock feel but they bring it to the mainstream audiences. They’ll never be the number one love of popular music listeners but they’ll be in the background to keep the other acts honest, because when those audiences go looking for something else Mumford and Sons will be the most available choice. There’s tons I could say on the topic of albums vs singles but I’ll leave it at this; most bands spend a lot of time creating their albums for the shear fact that they want to do what they love and have people love what they do. To pick out a couple of songs here and there is like picking a few chapters out of a book. If you want to do the cost efficient thing and only buy a few songs then just download the rest, at least that way you can appreciate all of the music the way it was meant to be enjoyed.
Standout track- “Dustbowl Dance” really sounds like a different side of Mumford and Sons altogether. It’s got a darker edge to it and a really emotional pull to the lyrics that help it rise above the rest.
Listen to it if- you’re looking for a way to ease into folk music like a vegetarian eases into becoming a proper human being.
Don’t listen to it if- you immediately criticize any non-experimental music as “boring”, seriously you’ll be doing us both a favor.
Overall opinion- “Sigh No More” feels a little like folk music “lite” but it is fun and powerful none the less. There’s a lot of folk to love here, so long as you’re willing to look at it all rather than just bits and pieces.