Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More (Glassnote Records, 2009)

Mumford & Sons are a folk rock quartet based in West London. The band are led by Marcus Mumford (vocals, guitar, drums, mandolin), with a supporting cast of Ben Lovett (vocals, keyboards, accordion, drums), "Country" Winston Marshall (vocals, banjo, dobro), and Ted Dwane (vocals, string bass, drums, guitar). While they are a bit unusual in that they switch instruments with each other between songs, their sound combines a lot of familiar elements in a way that should appeal to a diverse audience. Sigh No More is their debut CD.

I suppose Mumford & Sons will draw some comparisons to The Pogues, given that they play mostly acoustic instruments with an aggressive, punkish attitude.  Their style is a bit less Celtic, though, and a bit more foot-stomping bluegrass.  Most of the songs are quite energetic and dramatic, but in general they're a bit too similar to really distinguish themselves from each other.  The biggest exception, and the strongest track on the album as a result, is "White Blank Page," which is a bit more sophisticated in its buildup of energy.  The other noteworthy track is the catchy "Little Lion Man," boasting a very singable (if profane) chorus.  Otherwise most of the rest of the disc is pretty good, but "Dust Bowl Dance" is very overwrought.  (It also marks the second straight album I've reviewed where religion is invoked in an ineffective manner.)

Sigh No More is a decent album, generally consistent but not spectacular.  If you like folk music that's heavy on drums, you'll probably find Mumford & Sons' sound appealing.

Overall grade: B

reviewed by Scott

"Little Lion Man"

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