It was inevitable Mumford & Sons were one day going to hang up their banjos. Despite the instrument being what makes them stand out of the multitude of folk indie bands, the banjos were often seen as a gimmick. And so on their latest album Wilder Mind, the band went electronic, bringing out electric guitars and synths in full force. However this attempt at an apparently more mature sound may have cost them their uniqueness.
As a whole, Wilder Mind is a competent rock album. The instruments, vocals and production are competently put together to create a slicker sound than previous Mumford & Sons albums. However, individually, there is very little to distinguish each song from the next. In fact on my second listen I discovered three songs had played when I thought I was still on the first song.
Mumford & Sons have still retained their familiar song format; quieter verses where Marcus Mumford’s vocals muse over a simple instrumental refrain, and louder choruses where guitars are played full speed and the whole band chime in on the vocals. But the sing-along melodies and lyrics that made previous hits like Little Lion Man at least memorable are gone, leaving only bland lyrics and a uniform sound in their place. The songs that stand out, Monster, Cold Arms and Ditmas, are ironically the more acoustic songs of the album.
While normally artists perform acoustic versions of their songs, Wilder Mind is the opposite – an electronic version of Mumford & Sons original acoustic style only minus the originality. Wilder Mind is a proficient rock album, but without the banjos it doesn’t stand out from the crowd.