* * * 1/2
Sigh no More
Mumford & Sons
This folk/rock album from across the pond has taken a while to reach me, perhaps since reading the British press can tire me out trying to get past a lot of hype and expectations to actually find anything.
While Sigh was nominated for the prestigious Mercury Prize, and wend double-platinum in the UK and Australia last year the album didn't get released until this year in the US. Probably because labels probably were unsure of how to market this. It's too mainstream in terms of its orchestration and delivery for the indie folk scene and too down to earth and rough for mainstream alt-rock (though it's gotten pretty solid airplay here on the local alternative station). For instance the ability to emote in a dramatic song is unthinkable here in the US for indie bands (probably a result of Connor Oberest's nearly absurdly emotive delivery) while bands like Glassvegas and We Were Promised Jet Packs (and M&S) do it so well, though far more nuanced than your average emo-alt rockers.
Mumford & Sons is a welcome respite from pretty much everything in the UK music scene. This sounds something like a heavier version of an early Frames record, and it's nice to hear banjo's and dobros on rock songs that aren't some sort of Celtic inspired punk.
The sound lies somewhere in between the more polished Fairport Convention records and the lo-fi freak folk sound that' we're up to our ears in here in the US (at times it feels like a throw back to late 90's roots rock records). What sets it apart from its contemporaries is an earnestness even while it does strive for the epic nature of songs that seems so inherent in UK folk music. This is a solid and promising album even though it runs a bit too long and there isn't too much variety or chances taken on this album.