Categorized | Arts & Entertainment

Mumford and Sons struggle to find their own sound in “Delta”

Waverly Hart

Managing Editor

Solidifying themselves in the alternative rock genre, Mumford and Sons released “Delta” on Nov. 16, marking their fourth studio LP.

The 14-track album marks an even further departure from the traditional folk sound for which Mumford and Sons originally became famous.  Featuring the electric guitar and other synthetic sounds, the album creates an alternative sound similar to other pop-rock bands on the radio.

The band, led by vocalist and guitarist Marcus Mumford, saw success with their first two albums, “Sigh No More” (2009)  and “Babel” (2012). With songs such as “Little Lion Man,” “I Will Wait” and “The Cave,” Mumford and Sons quickly rose to fame as a folk-rock band.

However, when Mumford and Sons’ former banjo player Winston Marshall traded in his banjo for a bass guitar after saying, “fuck the banjo” in a 2014 interview, the group abandoned their strumming Appalachian bluegrass sound and took a more electronic rock approach to their music.  The songs on their third album, “Wilder Mind” (2015), are barely recognizable from their signature sound and appeal to a totally different fan base. 

While “Delta” is classified as an alternative/ indie album, the 61-minute LP is closer to Top 40 pop than “Wilder Mind.”  Though this album is their most sonically experimental, it is not their best work. Mumford and Sons is struggling to find their own sound and identity, as many songs are indistinguishable from other alternative pop songs played on the radio.

The album opens with “42,” a harmony of Bon Iver-esque voices that starts slow but turns into a more hummable song as instruments are added and the tempo builds until the end of the track.  

The highlight of the album is the second track, “Guiding Light,” an upbeat song released as the lead single in September.  The tempo and notes of the music behind the vocals are reminiscent of the repetitive banjo picking from the band’s first two albums.  The pattern and speed of notes are the same, yet they are synthesized and converted into an alternative electric sound. The lyrics are also some of the happier on the album, with the chorus repeating “Cause even when there is no star in sight/ You’ll always be my only guiding light.”

The next song is the awkward, slower anthem “Woman.”  Mumford stumbles through cliched lyrics such as “I can’t read your mind though I’m trying all the time…/ But I am left in awe of the woman I adore.”  The lyrics are no new spin on pining after a love interest. The complement to this is “Wild Heart,” a slow ballad also containing unoriginal lyrics about an adored romantic partner.  

“The Wild” is a slower song, with barely any sounds besides a gentle guitar backing up Mumford’s whispering voice.  This song tackles more serious themes than is usual  in past Mumford and Sons’ tracks, which several songs on the album also address.  After the opening lyrics “We saw birth and death,” the song goes on to deal with the different pains and heartaches the band experienced after returning home from tour.  

Other songs on the album are indistinguishable, with similar instrument riffs and beats set to different lyrics.  Overall, the album is indistinguishable from other alternative bands heard on the radio and only has a few good songs. 

Fans of Mumford and Sons’ original Appalachian folk sound will not like this album.  Fans of the new Mumford and Sons’ rock sound will be disappointed at its unoriginal pop feel.  Mumford and Sons is still attempting to produce the rock music they enjoy making, while not forgetting about their roots in folk. 

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