Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More
“It's such a fine line between stupid and clever” - David St. Hubbins (Spinal Tap).
Life is full of fine lines. A microscopically fine one exists between being cringe-worthingly-embarrassing and visionary. Mumford & Sons wear tambourines on their feet, therefore the only logical conclusion is to put them in the former category. Thankfully this band - whose name conjures up images of a stammering, brown over-coated Ronnie Barker getting into “hilarious” scrapes - have re-drawn the fine line as an arrow; an arrow pointing to the most raucous party in the Tavern of Visionary Eccentrics (ample parking and children’s play area at rear).
When Marcus Mumford plays the guitar does he squint and see a washboard in his hands? Such is the ferocity and drive in his style, it becomes as much a part of the percussion as it does the melody. This make a great deal of sense when you realise that as an active part of the London folk scene, he also plays the drums for Laura Marling. This jigsaw-puzzle of an album is made up mainly of pieces of folk, but there are some rock and bluegrass bits in there too. But rather than over-analysing them why not hurl all the pieces into the air and watch them rain down like confetti and elbow your way onto the dance floor?
Marcus aside, the rest of the band contribute to the tight musical fluency that propel high energy songs like lead single ‘Little Lion Man’ into orbit. Pulling back, pushing forward, slowly breathing in then letting it all spill out into tremendous, foot-stomping crescendoes. At times the band really manage to up the tempo and kick some trad arse. The three singers’ voices intertwine and build upon one another, creating currents of strident majesty that shepherd boats of thickly-bearded, mead-drinking sailors safely into port. Ahoy, ye lubbers!
Sigh No More is littered with treasures that won’t require a map or metal detector to locate. ‘Winter Winds’ is inspirational and full of confidence. ‘Timshel’ is beautiful and the equal of anything Fleet Foxes may have sent us over the Atlantic: its emotive harmonies and gently plucked guitars ring out like a quartet of Nick Drakes.
If sober, you can sing along. If drunk, you can yell the lyrics from balconies or whilst stumbling home. It’s an album with tales of joy, sorrow, love and malice that are impossible not to get caught within. Mumford & Sons have had lofty expectations placed on their fledgling shoulders, but unlike many other “next big things” have managed to deliver the goods.