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184 of 201 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This album is beautiful. Truly. It doesn't disappoint.
This album is beautiful. Truly. It doesn't disappoint.

There's always a bit of trepidation when you start listening to a second release by a band/musician that you love- you worry that there'll be some dramatic change in musical style or songwriting, etc.

But have no worries- the classic Mumford & Sons sound is totally here- if anything, it sort of...
Published on September 25, 2012 by Chel Micheline

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80 of 106 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit underwhelming
This album is not bad, but it's not great either...definitely not as great as Sigh No More. The album starts incredibly strong; the first track is probably my favorite off the entire album, but after a few songs it slows down quite a bit and each song starts sounding like the last, and the question, "Is that the same banjo riff I heard in the last two songs?" inevitably...
Published on September 25, 2012 by Brendan


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184 of 201 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This album is beautiful. Truly. It doesn't disappoint., September 25, 2012
This review is from: Babel (Audio CD)
This album is beautiful. Truly. It doesn't disappoint.

There's always a bit of trepidation when you start listening to a second release by a band/musician that you love- you worry that there'll be some dramatic change in musical style or songwriting, etc.

But have no worries- the classic Mumford & Sons sound is totally here- if anything, it sort of FLOURISHES on "Babel". There are the great, clever lyrics ("press my nose up to the glass around your heart"), the layered building of each song into a sort of soaring crescendo, all that good stuff. Just even better. Their sound is richer without being too polished or manufactured in any way. They are all just doing more of what they are so good at.

I love that this album is designed as a whole- there was clearly a lot of thought put in the way the songs were ordered. In this age of MP3s and individual tracks, arranging tracks for an album seems to be something some artists don't too much thought to, but there's a nice structure to "Babel", as a whole. I have enjoyed listening to it as a complete album, which is sort of rare these days. When it's over I just start it up at the beginning and play it all again. Even the more spare songs (which I don't love as much as I love when the band goes all out) appeal to me when the album is played as a whole.

My favorite thing about Mumford & Sons is that when they play, whether live or on their albums, you can almost *hear* the circle they might be standing in, hear the connection between the musicians, hear the music reverberating off the walls, hear that they are playing together as opposed to facing in one direction and playing off into the distance. There's an energy in their music that seems to be formed from the way the songs sound like true collaborations rather than "there's the drums, there's the vocals, here comes the guitar, here's some banjo..." And this sort of "connection" that they seem to have, musically, is even more apparent on this album.

As far as their cover of "The Boxer"- I have to admit, I'm a huge fan of Simon and Garfunkel and I was both super excited and super nervous to hear Mumford's take on the classic song- it's sort of one of those "holy grail" songs to me. But it's lovely version of the song- of course, it's not as epic as the original, but it has found a place on my latest playlist and if it helps expose S&G to a new generation, that would be amazing.

Bottom line- I can't stop listening to "Babel" and I don't *want* to. It's a lovely album, very moving, very clever, very sweet, all at the same time. I highly recommend it.
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72 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Album, September 25, 2012
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This review is from: Babel (Vinyl)
This is another great album from Mumford & Sons. I purchased the vinyl version and wanted to comment that it does come with a digital download card. This was a great relief since it doesn't mention anything of that in the description of the product. Great purchase, worth every cent.

I'll repeat again so people see it.

The vinyl of the album DOES come with a digital download code!

EDIT: the download is of a rip off the vinyl so it does include some sound flaws in it.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Solid Follow-Up Effort With 'Room To Expand,' 3 ˝ Stars, September 26, 2012
This review is from: Babel (Audio CD)
Mumford & Sons 2012 effort Babel is easily one of the year's most anticipated efforts. A solid album overall, first time Mumford & Sons fan may enjoy Babel `better' than the most invested fans; more invested fans may pinpoint Babel as `formulaic' and `safe' rather than innovative. Arguments presented, Babel is sure-fire commercial hit that may not necessarily `progress' the band's artistry to `the next level' as expected. A superb group of musicians, as good as Babel is, it may be ever so slightly humbler than the hype.

Opener "Babel" is characterized by Mumford & Sons's `rhythmic machine' (acoustic guitar, banjo) and set in six-eight time. Ben Lovett's piano provides a chordal foundation, preempting contrast from Marcus Mumford's gritty vocals in favor of smoother, more melodic-centered vocals. "Babel" is ultimately well conceived; it ends with cliffhanging airy pad segueing into "Whispers in the Dark."

"Whispers in the Dark" possesses constant rhythmic motion throughout the verses, though it is softer allowing for Marcus's vocals to shine without strain. `Wall of sound' vocals aid in giving the record an inviting timbre, committed to folk. "Whispers" is less emotionally dynamic than "Babel" however.

"I Will Wait" receives valedictory honors easily. Highlights include supporting vocal harmonizations as well as sound vocal production overall. Songwriting is superb by all means. Add excellent pacing with an eventual fruition of production including piercing horns and "I Will Wait" seems a shoe-in for Grammy nominations (Record and/or Song of the Year).

"Holland Road" keeps Mumford & Sons on `autopilot.' The harmonic scheme is similar to "I Will Wait," while the pace is slower, a stark contrast. Mumford's vocals are emotional and sincere. Add a splash of brass and "Holland Road" is easily on the same plane as "Babel" or "I Will Wait."

"Ghost That We Knew" comes off shy of the level of the aforementioned "Babel," "I Will Wait" or "Holland Road," but delivers sound songwriting, most notably on the chorus: "So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light/Cause oh that gave me such a fright..." There is not too much to trivialize, save for some `predictability' (the unwinding ending) and length at nearly six minutes.

"Lover of the Light," takes a subtle approach prior to Mumford `letting it rip.' The melody highlights and is clearly discernible. "Lover of the Light" benefits its chorus, much like "Ghost..." did: "But love the one you hold/and I'll be your goal/to have and to hold/A lover of the light." The instrumental timbres within the production add to a list of positives. Even so, the cut is a bit lengthy.
"Lovers' Eyes" delivers a well-paced, well thought out cut. Vocal production is clear and Mumford's lead vocals sincere as he references religion, forgiveness, and love: "Cuz I feel numb beneath your tongue/your strength just makes me feel less strong/do not ask the price I pay for I must live with my quiet rage..." Mumford's overt outro seals the deal: "But I'll walk slow, I'll walk slow/take my hand, help me on my way..." As Al Green would put it, "Simply Beautiful."

"Reminder" gives the listener a simple, brief cut at 2:04. Not among the `elite,' it is a solid and lovely showing. "Hopeless Wanderer," lacks little `unpredictability' here, which hurts its cause. With the `deck of cards' revealed, this is a solid track where one desires a bit more `shake up' within the formula.

"Broken Crown" is the best of the quartet then closes Babel. Horns tighten up sound even if it follows a similar formula. "Broken Crown" lifts some "Little Lion Man" swag by dropping the f-bomb within the chorus if nothing else. "Below My Feet" delivers nothing new per say while closing cut "Not With Haste" is solid, though average compared against juggernaut "I Will Wait." The Deluxe edition tacks on three bonus cuts ("For Those Below," "The Boxer" featuring Jerry Douglas and Paul Simon, and "Where Are You Now"), bringing the total number of songs to fifteen.

Overall, Babel is a solid, enjoyable album. It could potentially land multiple Grammy nominations (just made the submission deadline), even as lofty as the coveted `Album of the Year.' That said, Babel is not necessarily `THE best album' I've personally reviewed this year, but contains the sensibilities and `cadences' of what the Recording Academy likes for sure. The biggest quibbles personally are that the band can/should take more risks instead of clinging to safety and `formulaic' means. The perceptible predictability could be easily eradicated with minor changes and `tricks.' Babel gets it done, but album no. 3 needs to `take the next step'; 3 ˝ Stars.
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80 of 106 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit underwhelming, September 25, 2012
By 
Brendan (Louisville, KY) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Babel (MP3 Music)
This album is not bad, but it's not great either...definitely not as great as Sigh No More. The album starts incredibly strong; the first track is probably my favorite off the entire album, but after a few songs it slows down quite a bit and each song starts sounding like the last, and the question, "Is that the same banjo riff I heard in the last two songs?" inevitably creeps into the mind. Considering the long and impressive journey their first album took to reach the popularity it eventually did, the Sons had a LOT to live up to. This is a fine effort by the band, but I will admit it left me a bit underwhelmed. With that said, there are certainly some gems on this album and an overall nostalgia that make it worth picking up.
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108 of 152 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A revelatory, deeply meaningful expression of passion... or is it?, October 6, 2012
This review is from: Babel (Vinyl)
Millions of people adore Mumford & Sons, finding their sound to be much more than pleasant folksy tunes but rather something like a revelatory, deeply meaningful expression of passion.

When I first heard M&S, I, too, found them revelatory. It was intensely refreshing to hear popular music that has soul--so much soul that they couldn't help but to project it at the tops of their lungs. It was a desperately needed reply to the current "I don't care / we do what we want" irreverent dance-pop glitz ethos.

Many listens later, I see M&S differently. The music reliably invokes excitement but, in doing so, it finds no space for subtlety or understatement. Their roots are in Back Country bluegrass and folk -- genres that are all about stories -- but in M&S's music there are no stories. Rather, this album is a lot like U2's City of Blinding Light: Biblical imagery expressed in generic terms. A flailing attempt to capture spirituality. Or maybe just to prevent boredom. Instead of stories intended to shake and inspire, we get posturing and shouting intended to excite. After a while, all the excitement becomes exhausting and empty, not unlike the dance-pop glitz they oppose.

I believe people are starved for deeper rewards than Maroon 5 and their dance-pop contemporaries offer, and I believe that's why M&S are the top-selling musicians in the country (and by a wide margin), because they give the instant impression of heartfelt folky soulfulness. But the truth, revealed after enough listens, is that they are closer to stadium rock. To find deeper rewards, you have to look to the folk / bluegrass / celtic roots that have inspired them: Bob Dylan or Van Morrison, or even more recent acts like Ray LaMontagne or Amos Lee. Their music may not be as instantly pleasurable or exciting as M&S's, but if you give it your patience and attention, you just might find rewards that are far more precious than excitement.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fun Ride, November 20, 2012
This review is from: Babel (Audio CD)
After a year of touring non-stop, people were afraid Mumford & Sons wouldn't be able to pull together another amazing album.

I am happy to report that this is not the case in any way. Babel's climbing crescendos and twangy banjo show that Mumford & Sons are the same great band. They've lost none of the energy that made them great upon the first hearing. Marcus Mumford belts out the lyrics with the same meaningful force.

If you're looking for more of the Mumford & Sons signature style, look no further. This is the album we've all been waiting for.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Next British Invasion, November 17, 2012
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This review is from: Babel (Deluxe Edition) (MP3 Music)
I can't stop listening to this album! It is so much more upbeat and uplifiting than their first album, which is great as well, but this one is in a class of its own. The lyrics are more religious than their first album, but they are fantastic, and I still can't get enough of the banjo picking! I hope these guys make it big in the US, the American music scene has been dying for a band that just performs their own good music.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Second Album may even be better than the first!, November 19, 2012
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This review is from: Babel (Audio CD)
All the intensity and all the passion we loved on the first album is in every song on this new release. I can't stop listening to it! These guys prove that there are still new ways of doing things that people will appreciate if you put your heart into it. It is as soulful and well written as the first! Carry on Fellas, we love it.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars You're No God, October 9, 2012
This review is from: Babel (Audio CD)
Three years ago, I was really getting into this whole traditional music revival. Bluegrass, folk, alternative country, etc... It was all so fresh. And along came Mumford & Sons, an arena-folk outfit out of London with lots of energy, the right amount of sincerity, and a totally fresh style. I was so excited about it that I imported Sigh No More a month before it was officially available stateside.

I spun that record so much that by the time I saw them at the 2010 Telluride Bluegrass Festival, I had all their songs memorized. There, they blew me away with one of my favorite musical memories: a cover of "Hey Jude" with Jerry Douglas, Sarah Jarosz, and Cadillac Sky. Every now and then, I watch the video on youtube and think, "Yeah, I was there."

Then they exploded. By the time they became the Newest Big Thing, I was already ready for a new M&S record... And then they took almost two years to make one.

So, you can imagine how high the expectations were for Babel. I already heard four of the songs (Lover Of The Light, Below My Feet, Lover's Eyes, and Hopeless Wanderer) in Telluride, and I had the recordings on my mp3 player. Most of the people I showed them to all had the same take: they're all kinda the same.

This is the unfortunate reality Mumford & Sons must face: if you take three years to make a new record, especially when your popularity has skyrocketed in the meantime, you must make a choice between giving the masses exactly what they're asking for (i.e., more of the same), or, in the interest of art, doing something new and exciting. "The same" was exciting three years ago; now there are other artists who are doing newer things and more exciting things. M&S chose not to go with new and exciting.

These are nice songs to be sure. But there's nothing about this record that screams, "THIS is a vital part of your music collection." It's just a repetition of the same chords, the same strumming patterns, the same lyrical themes, and really, the same songs, for the length of the record. Every time I've heard it, I found myself losing interest at some point. The cover of "The Boxer" is the most interesting thing here, and that's just a bonus track.

So, that's how it is. Mumford & Sons becomes a pop band, albeit one that is still much cooler than all the electronic production whores and child-stars-turned-singer.

Sometimes, I look at Laura Marling, with whom they collaborated in the past, and to whom they owe a lot of their musical ideas (and whence came the title for this review), and think that she's the one who deserved worldwide fame. But then I realize it would be an even greater shame were she pressured to give everybody what they want.

A final note about the sound quality: I have the vinyl version of this record, and it sounds bad. The bass is way too loud, and it is hard to pick out more subtle sounds that come across nice and clear on Sigh No More. If it's just the vinyl and the CD sounds better, it would be the first time I've heard a vinyl sound worse than a CD. Particularly in louder parts of the music, everything just sounds flat and muddled.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It really helped me, September 21, 2013
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This review is from: Babel (MP3 Music)
My friend recently passed away and one of her favourite bands was Mumford and Sons, so I started listening to them and their lyrics are so powerful, as well as his voice accompanied by all the instruments. I'm able to connect with most of the songs, and I love the balance between calm and really powerful. I've been able to really connect with Lover of the Light and Hopeless Wanderer and I want to thank this band for being so amazing and having such a large part in my friend's life because they're probably the best band I've ever listened to.
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Babel
Babel by Mumford & Sons (Audio CD - 2012)
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