Little Lion Man by English folk band Mumford and Sons could quite possibly be one of the year’s best singles. It has a hoedown, features banjo and has a soaring chorus that uses the word “fuck” to express vulnerability rather than just for the sake of it. And when played on the radio alongside the likes of Lady GaGa, it is a breath of fresh air.
The problem with Mumford and Sons’ debut album Sigh No More is that while all the aforementioned elements are brilliant when used together in moderation, when applied to twelve tracks they become heavy and repetitive. That’s not to say that it is a bad album, because it isn’t. But whenever I listen to it all I think about is how great the album could have been rather than how good it is.
There really are some great moments on the album Aside from Little Lion Man the second track on the album The Cave is driving folk song with great banjo plucking and the verses contain some of the most poetic lyrics on the entire album. The horns on Winter Winds help lift up the catchy but repetitive chorus making it one of the album’s better songs and the hoedowns throughout the album set them apart from many of today’s folk bands.
The album is far form perfect though. While it would be ridiculous to suggest that all folk bands should have the lyrical prowess of say, The Decemberists, but at times Mumford and Sons leave a lot to be desired in the lyrics department. The lyrics are very heartfelt and deal with love, hate and anger. But after twelve tracks it all becomes too heavy and boarders on cheesy. Another problem is that this old style of folk music often relies on good storytelling in the lyrics, which is something the band is yet to perfect. Luckily Marcus Mumford’s gravely voice manages to keep the album afloat.
The production is very polished, which is great for mainstream appeal but not so good if you like your folk music a little bit grimey. Even the hoedowns seem a bit restrained, which is a shame because if they had been a little less controlled they would have made the album great.
Sigh No More had the potential to be a great album and shows that Mumford and Sons are very capable musicians who just need to let loose and lighten up. That said, any release that can get the general public interested in folk can’t be a bad thing.