Mumford on ‘Babel’: “The writing has changed, but sonically it is just us”

Mumford and Sons have responded to a handful of less-than-glowing reviews of their new record Babel, telling FL “the writing has changed, but sonically it is just us”.

Due for release on September 21, initial reviews of Mumford and Sons “difficult second album” have criticised the band for “playing it safe” and not deviating from the banjo-driven folk sound they established on their hugely successful debut Sigh No More. The Australian’s Tony Hillier wrote: ” If 2009’s Grammy-nominated, Brit Award-scooping Sigh No More exploded like a multicoloured rocket, Babel is something of a damp squib, a Roman candle that draws a few oohs and aahs but ultimately fails to soar to any great heights.” While Rolling Stone’s Barnaby Smith concluded, “In keeping with their startling career so far, Mumford and Sons succeed spectacularly in filtering a noble and illustrious music for mass consumption.”

Speaking with FL ahead of Mumford’s forthcoming tour, multi-instrumentalist Ted Duane was quick to dismiss the early critical reaction to the band’s second album, “I haven’t read [any reviews yet], but I think we obviously make a sound and we work within our parameters – our limitations – I think . The confines within which we work make us sound a certain way. I think sonically it’s quite similar [to Sigh No More and that was intentional to a degree, we worked with the same producer. [But] I think the writing has changed and that is what people will hear – the evolution of writing. Sonically it’s just us.”

In addition to their October arena tour, Mumford and Sons are set to debut their Gentleman Of The Road concept Down Under, performing a special concert alongside Sarah Blasko, Edward and the Magnetic Zeros and Willy Mason in the regional town of Dungog, NSW.

The full interview with Duan – in which he discusses the band’s pending move to the US, “that” ‘Little Lion Man’ song and being drunk on stage with Bruce Springsteen – will be published on FL in coming weeks.

Babel is out through Dew Process on September 21.