Listening to Mumford & Sons with My Son

Laundry had piled up to the point where my son said, “Dad, I can’t find any underwear!” It’s at that point when living out of laundry baskets for a family of 5 needs immediate attention. Sunday night was an all out blitzkrieg on what at times seems an unbeatable enemy to put an insurmountable amount of clothes away. Seems a simple enough task, but with baseball and dance recitals taking up so much time, it’s a worthy opponent.

It has become a ritual of ours that when laundry is being put away, we throw on some music to help pass the time. On this particular evening my wife and daughters were in the kids room while my son and I posted up on the front line in my bedroom. Typically with the kid around I put on something tame such Disney Radio or The Beatles. I’ve had Mumford & Son’s new album for a while now and really wanted to give it a listen because of how different I heard it would be from their previous two releases “Sigh No More” and “Babel”.

And that’s exactly what it was, different.

Many complaints I’ve heard from others in regards to the sound of Sons was that every song sounds the same. It starts slow, really picks up, pauses and runs to the finish line. And if this album does anything, it gives their naysayers a taste of something different. The band is quoted on their website stating the following in regards to the sound of the album:

“whose sound Marcus describes as ‘a development, not a departure.’ Which came about how – by accident, or as a result of a conscious decision?

“It was a bit of both. Towards the end of the Babel tour, we’d always play new songs during soundchecks, and none of them featured the banjo, or a kick-drum. And demoing that song with Aaron meant that, when we took a break, we knew it wasn’t going to involve acoustic instruments. We didn’t say: ‘No acoustic instruments.’ But I think all of us had this desire to shake it up. The songwriting hasn’t changed drastically; it was led by a desire not do the same thing. Plus, we fell back in love with drums! It’s as simple as that.”

My son wasn’t overly impressed with this rekindled love of no banjos or acoustic flare. “Dad, I don’t like the sound of it.” And with the intro of “Tompkins Square Park”, I was in agreement with him. It just didn’t catch me right off the bat. This wasn’t the sound of the band that had quickly become one of my favorite. Something about the bluegrass-like sound of the previous two albums really drew me in. Music that didn’t feel forced down your throat or needed to shatter your ear drums was something quite inviting to me. Something you could listen to at a pub with friends enjoying some good bourbon. And I was quickly disappointed that this band felt the need to shake things up just for the sake of proving to people they had range and ability to be more than their signature sound.

“Believe” was released prior to the album on Youtube. I really enjoyed how it was different but at the same time had the rhythm of a M&S song. After “Tompkins Square” I was afraid it may be the only song I’d enjoy. It took until the 6th song on, “Monster” until another song caught my attention. It was almost hypnotic in it’s rhythm. Followed by “Snake Eyes”, “Broad-Shouldered Beasts” and “Cold Arms”, each strong songs that help really solidify the album. But in typical Sons fashion, they finished strong with their last entry “Hot Gates”. The title quickly reminded me of Miller’s “300” where Spartans defended the passage way of the same name. Not in the sense of a bloody battle, rather something sweeping. Something dark about it that could be featured in a dramatic trailer or montage for a movie or television show. Easily my favorite song of their “new” sound.

“Son, what’d you think.”

“Not bad.”

Can’t say I disagree with him.

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