Mumford & Sons - Delta

58

Pitchfork

Having shed the beardy affect and folksy shuffle, the band could now slip mostly unnoticed between Imagine Dragons and twenty one pilots, but their newly palatable sound could really use more quirks.

Tue Nov 20 07:00:00 CET 2018

40

The Guardian

(Gentlemen of the Road/Island)

Mumford & Sons referenced Talk Talk and Jai Paul as they recorded their fourth album, but the electronic touches that emerge on Delta speak less of those noted pioneers than they do synthetic nuisances Alt-J. The screwed sprite-like vocal effects of Picture You and Darkness Visible’s indistinct dystopian miasma (soundtracking a reading from Paradise Lost!) suggest a new identity crisis for a band who spent their last album overhauling their agrarian aesthetic to make like the War on Drugs. Distressingly, it’s also tinged with hip-hop: the stumbling beat of Rose of Sharon juxtaposes fey harmonies and Marcus Mumford proclaiming, “E’er our lives entwined.” It’s less Hamilton-inspired mashup than pure Spotifycore, a genre mess reaching for pan-playlist appeal.

What a shame. Mumfords were once adept at uniting disparate influences. Their mesh of big-tent club tempos and banjo hoedowns was horrible but ingenious – it’s a knack they’ve lost. And although Delta’s lyrics are painfully earnest (screaming into shadows, frosty words echoing inside, etc), they betray genuinely felt crises: Beloved hymns a dying grandparent, If I Say is a mature song about Ben Lovett’s divorce that doesn’t apportion blame, and a pervasive fear of the unknown comes to a head on The Wild, literally, when a sombre song erupts into battlefield fanfare. These many supposedly rousing moments are unnecessary and suggest little confidence in the quietude they do well. Mumford and Sons are more robust than the froggy-voiced folkies they’ve inspired, a weight that carries forlorn, enveloping songs such as Woman and Wild Heart.

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Fri Nov 16 11:20:01 CET 2018

40

The Guardian

(Gentlemen of the Road/Island)

Over the course of their first two albums, Mumford & Sons’ foot-stomping, banjo-led hoedowns saw them worshipped (9m albums sold; transatlantic No 1s) and reviled in almost equal measure, not least for their clumsy, rich-men-pretending-to-be-hobos cultural appropriation of dustbowl chic. But 2015’s Wilder Mind was far less polarising, as they sacrificed their hugely successful USP for a numbingly boring stadium-rock take on the War on Drugs that turned out to be more like a war on staying awake.

Album number four follows in a similar vein, only with even greater emphasis on ponderous balladry (beta-blockers will surely never slow the pulse as effectively as listening to Forever – it could save the NHS a fortune). Remarkably, it is even more anodyne than its predecessor. There’s the odd stirring, lighters-aloft chorus – the title track, The Wild (although it takes a very long time to get there), Slip Away – but for the most part this is little more than Coldplay stripped of the panache.

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Sun Nov 18 08:59:54 CET 2018