This week’s music review goes across the pond to Sign No More by the British group Mumford & Sons. A well-delivered collection of original songs that has steadily gained international popularity,Sign No More has established itself as one of the top albums available within the United States. It presents a folksy, upbeat style of music, utilizing purely acoustic instruments, yet avoids the typical “feel good” folk band. The combination of many of the songs’ subtle minor chord progressions and the deep, thought-provoking lyrics generate a much more complex and enticing sound; undoubtedly one of the prominent reasons for the album’s success. The audience is left with the impression that the members of Mumford & Sons are not merely trying to entertain the world, but to deal with heavy, real life problems, which in turn catapults the substance of Sigh No More to a higher level within the listener’s mind.
It also helps that this album has a well-balanced presentation of its material. Each song contains a smooth crescendo, with two main choruses. This causes one song to feel like a combination of two songs, with one underlying theme that connects them. The album has a satisfying proportion of up-lifting melodies, such as “Sigh No More,” “The Cave,” and “Awake My Soul,” to melancholic ones in “After the Storm” and “I Gave You All,” with a few strongly emotional songs thrown in as well, with “White Blank Page” and “Dust Bowl Dance.”
There are several consistent elements within Mumford & Sons’ music that set it apart from the majority of other popular bands. Sign No More strongly relies on the banjo for many songs’ drives, and uses simplified percussion, which in many songs is only a bass drum and tambourine. The acoustic guitar is well picked, and uses many of the same strumming patterns throughout the album. However, after being immersed in the album, these characteristics become pleasant familiarities and act as the band’s signature on each song. Sign No More comes highly recommended not only because of its musical quality but because the intelligence and emotional bluntness encompassed within the lyrics found in every song.