Mumford and Sons were another incredible surprise that again, is awfully hard to put a label on. Such music adds a certain zest and challenge to this project, but it also makes for complex, mature sounding music that is damn enjoyable to listen to.
So how do you describe them? For some reason, as I was listening to this album, I kept thinking: troubadors. Badass troubadors. Or possibly minstrels- and lo and behold, according to the font of all knowledge that is wikipedia, the album title 'Sigh No More' is a reference to Shakespeare's 'Much Ado About Nothing' (best Shakespeare movie EVER. Before what's-his-face got all mature and cynical and wound up on House M.D. plus: Emma Thompson: HOT.) And there is certainly something Shakespearean about them- bangos, folksy, even a vague spicy patina of bluegrass thrown in for good measure.
Wait- what's that you say? Did you say bluegrass? Do they have any American influences? Why- again, we refer to the font all of knowledge that is wikipedia and find that the songs 'Timeshel' and 'Dust Bowl Dance' were heavily influenced by Steinbeck's East of Eden, Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath. Head Mumford Marcus Mumford added the following:
Mumford, in an interview, even compared touring to a Steinbeck adventure: "[Steinbeck] talked about how a journey is a thing of its own, and you can't plan it or predict it too much because that suffocates the life out it. That's kind of what touring is like. Even though there's a structure—you know what towns you're going to, and that you'll be playing a gig—pretty much anything can happen." Mumford also in his spare time runs an online book club on the band's official web site.
Whoa. So this guy is a serious fan of Steinbeck AND he runs an online book club on their official website? (Falls prostrate to the ground and repeats, in the voice of Mike Meyers: 'We're not worthy! We're not worthy!') What is there NOT to like? This is like a bunch of serious book fanatics got bored, started a successful band and decided to tour the world, play music and read books while they did.
It sounds too good to be true, but it's not: the music is fab and wanders back and forth between acoustic rock, folk and bluegrass seamlessly and with ease and makes for a fantastic mellow listen. There's up tempo happiness to be found here and gentle melodies to be found here and generally speaking this is an amazingly relaxed album.
Overall: Damn good stuff. Obviously, if you want to rage, scream and be angry you should throw Motorhead on your iPod and go from there, but if you want strummy guitars and mellow tunes Mumford and Sons is the place to be.