After the massive success of 2012's Babel both here and in the USA, London’s Mumford & Sons return with their 3rd studio album Wilder Mind on 4th May 2015. For better or worse, the album finds the boys taking leave from their signature acoustic instruments and going electric and it has been clear from the comments left on social media releases Believe and The Wolf this is much to the dismay of many of their fans.
But is it really such a bad thing? With many of their peers, such as Bombay Bicycle Club and Laura Marling having successfully made similarly transitional moves in their tenures, this may be more of a musical progression. This is echoed by comments from frontman Marcus Mumford who describes this evolution as “a development, not a departure.” I'm inclined to agree.
Looking back to their previous two albums, in spite of their acoustic predisposition, they have always been making faced paced, enigmatic, rock songs. Hence the change to electric works well for them and although there’s no Banjo and no double bass, it is undoubtedly Mumford & Sons.
There's a lot to like about Wilder Mind, not least the opening track Tomkins Square Park which has echoes of Maccabees stylings and gets the album rocked up from the off. Believe and The Wolf quickly follow it in a highly enjoyable opening trio. The 4th track, Wilder Mind is another belter, but distractingly, the opening drum roll sounds like Toni Basil's "Hey Mickey". This aside it's a great track and all the others that follow are in a similar vane.
My only real disappointment is that the production is a bit flat and minimalist, lacking the fuller sound of their previous efforts. While it may be unfair to compare this to the likes of 2012's Babel even as a stand-alone effort Wilder Mind failed to hold my full attention all the way through.
Overall it is a good effort, but it's not the amazing album the 3 pre-release tracks led me to think it would be. In their favour, the change in style will bridge the gap in the market and lure in more rock fans than their previous efforts. While I remain on the fence, I think Wilder Mind will most likely either reinforce or break the public's love/hate relationship with their material. I hope it works for them and I will watch with interest as this massive English export change the face of their own music.