Long ambient swells laced with shimmer reverb. Sparkling synth pads underneath raw, shredding electric guitar riffs. Syncopated, driving rhythms on a drum set. For fans of Mumford and Sons, this was unexpected to hear coming from their speakers while listening to Mumford’s latest album, “Wilder Mind.”
Those familiar with the iconic sound composed of banjos, upright bass and percussive acoustic guitars will be surprised to not find a single ounce of the old folk rock sound that put Mumford at the top of the charts several years ago. Instead, “Wilder Mind” drifts into a pure-electric, synth-driven sound built from a combination of saturated, dreamy swells and wild, over-driven guitar – not to mention actual drums are used for the album.
Mumford released four singles from the album in successive weeks leading up to the release of the album which only made the anticipation and wonder of fans skyrocket. The album has a variety of songs ranging from upbeat, rock to slow, wistful and atmospheric ballads. Though the album has a very distinctive electro-rock sound, each song is a unique color among the incredible palette created by Mumford.
The first song, “Tompkins Square Park” opens with a high, distorted electric guitar riff joined by a driving snare beat on the drums and long pulses on a synth pad. But as the song progresses, it becomes more full with layers of pads, synths and glittering piano, all which builds loudly into a simple yet tasteful guitar solo. As the song ends, swirling pads massage the ears into a dreamy state and transition flawlessly into “Believe,” the first single released several weeks ago.
The new Mumford sound incorporates loud, rocking songs like “The Wolf” to bluesy, clean guitar riffs on songs like “The Monster” and “Cold Arms.” “Only Love” begins with still, haunting chords on a synthesized piano. The singing stirs the listener with chilling harmonies, yet bursts into a loud chorus of drums, cymbals, power chords and subtle electric lead lines. The lyrics remain the classic poetic style that has characterized Mumford since the beginning.
“Wilder Mind” can best be described by something a friend of mine said: “It’s like drinking Sprite when expecting water. It’s still great and satisfying, but unexpected.”
Personally, with the release of Mumford’s previous album, “Babel” I was a bit unsatisfied as it seemed like a not-as-good sequel to “Sigh No More,” and I felt like I was listening to the exact same sound. I wanted something a bit more, and I think Mumford and Sons have made a bold yet justifiable choice in stepping out of their sound with some experimentation.
Overall, the new album proves to be very solid and invokes a lot of emotion from listeners and fans alike. The true test of a musician is the ability to progress in their sound and keep pushing the boundaries of their abilities. Mumford and Sons have done just that – and after many listens, I am hooked. Do yourself a favor and add Mumford and Sons, “Wilder Mind” to the summer playlist for turning all the way up in the car on hot, sunny days.
Thommy Brown is a sophomore history and Biblical studies major. This review reflects the opinion of the writer only.