Mumford and Sons, “Believe” from Wilder Mind (2015): One Track Mind

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It’s not exactly Bob Dylan plugging in at Newport, but there’s a fizzy energy about “Believe” when, two minutes in, Mumford and Sons — yes, Mumford and Sons — unleash an angry electric snort.

Three years after 2012’s well-received, but almost instantly retrograde Babel, Mumford and Sons have ditched the banjos for a raft of modern touches, and not just (gasp!) guitars. The forthcoming Wilder Mind, due May 4, 2015 via Glassnote Records, finds these darlings of throwback Americana dabbling in synths, even drum machines.

This follows a lengthy hiatus after Babel, one that clearly included some soul searching on where they were headed. Like, say, U2 before them, Mumford and Sons found themselves at a crossroads between fame and inspiration. They could keep doing the same thing, with the inevitability of lesser returns, or they could make an Achtung Baby kind of leap.

The dreamy, extended introduction heard on “Believe” actually hints at little of that updating, setting a contemplative mood for what then becomes a rush of emotion. As the lyric turns more needful (“say something, say something”), Mumford and Sons roar into a new era of sound.

Will Mumford and Sons endure a Dylan-style amount of blow back? Producer James Ford (perhaps best known for his work with HAIM) does a commendable job of blending these new sonic elements into Mumford and Sons’ core sound without overwhelming them, at least through the course of the searching, anthemic “Believe.” It feels more like an evolution, organic and heartfelt, than a sharp right turn.

That’s the best kind of change.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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