Verdict – 5.3
The debut album by English folk rock band Mumford & Sons achieved a great deal of commercial success, playing a heavy role in the beginning of the new found mainstream acceptance for folk music. Start off by pointing out, this isn’t a bad album, it just isn’t good either. There is no doubt they have a knack for building a song to a hectic, all instruments-ablaze (overblown at times) ending, carried by the passionate vocals of lead singer Marcus Mumford, however hearing the repeated formula and pattern in almost every song on the album gets tiring, and in some cases, quite irritating (the breakdown on the terribly bland Roll Away Your Stone).
The opener is the album’s best track (maybe because it is the opener and we have yet to tire of the sound), building up with hymn-like verses before Mumford rallies us that, “Love will not betray you, dismay or enslave you, it will set you free.” The lead single and surprisingly incredibly successful, Little Lion Man, is the only other track that shows any distinction, and in a very religiously themed album, the line, “I really fucked it up this time”, seems rather out of place, which probably makes it all the more memorable.
We reach Roll Away Your Stone, which opens with a riff sounding very out of place (and reminiscent of a much more able folk band, the Fleet Foxes), offering a nice change in pace before the usual banjos, drums, guitars and vocals collide yet again, reminding us that this is indeed still the same album. Dust Bowl Dance is another poorly executed song, attempting a dark, gothic vibe, with Mumford displaying his growl to ill effect, and makes the song feel entirely over-dramatic before the loudest, most disruptive closing of the record.
In comparison against a band such as Fleet Foxes, it’s clear the musical capability of Mumford & Sons is lacking, however, they’ve accumulated a strong base who do find the band so compelling. I do praise the success the band has now found, and hope they and other folk bands continue to do so in the future, hopefully making the generally under-appreciated genre more accessible, in-turn paving the way for new bands to enter the fray. In comparison to the general mainstream field, yeah, Sigh No More is pretty decent, but amongst the true artists and rival folk artists, the album lacks in almost all departments.
‘Better than Average’ Songs – Sigh No More, Little Lion Man