Mumford & Sons’ single “I Will Wait” from its latest release “Babel” served as the perfect tease to the rest of the album, which released Tuesday. The familiar pluck of the banjo and the sweet lyrics promised the band hadn’t lost its golden touch following its 2009 album “Sigh No More.” And the entire album lived up to the promise written within the single’s lyrics, “So I’ll be bold / As well as strong / And use my head alongside my heart.”
Aggressive title track “Babel” opens the album and offers an upbeat intro, framing the album well with its lyrics, “Cause I know my weakness, know my voice / I’ll believe in grace and choice.” The second track “Whispers in the Dark” is a mess and just a much weaker track overall, as well as one that doesn’t even sound like the band, aside from Marcus Mumford’s distinct voice.
“Holland Road” is one of the album’s best selections, an intensely desperate yet hopeful track, as Mumford sings, “And when I’ve hit the ground, neither lost nor found / If you believe in me I’ll still believe,” alongside a triumphant banjo and trumpet combination.
“So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light,” sings Mumford on the beautiful “Ghosts That We Knew,” another one of “Babel’s” best and a must-listen.
Continuing a streak of pure, honest tracks is “Lover of the Light,” the most beautiful song about love I’ve heard in a long time, followed by its counterpart “Lovers’ Eyes,” an equally beautiful song about love lost.
“Reminder” took me by surprise with its simplicity. The just more than two-minute song focuses in on Mumford’s voice complemented by the strum of a guitar. It is intimate, as if Mumford is serenading a single listener.
“Hopeless Wanderer” is an epic, classically Mumford song. If you listen to one track from “Babel,” make it this one. The song transcends from simple and slow into an explosive, addictive track that is best played on repeat.
Rounding out the album are three final tracks: “Broken Crown,” “Below My Feet” and “Not With Haste.” The first is a more dark, angry track, followed by “Below My Feet,” which offers some peace with the lyrics, “Let me learn from where I have been / Keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn.” The sweet, and, as its name implies, slow final track closes the album nearly perfectly.
This album, as Mumford & Sons typically does, touches every emotion imaginable. “Babel” has a sense of familiarity based largely on the instrumentals and Mumford’s voice, but the familiarity is no detriment. The band produced a 12-song collection of what it does best, pulling at its listeners’ heart strings while performing irresistible gems of music.