Wilder Mind is the third studio album by indie-folk-rock band Mumford & Sons. Released in 2015, the album quickly shot up the charts around the world and managed to release five singles. Audiences and fans (for the most part) were pleased, but it received very mixed reviews from critics.
Produced by James Ford (Arctic Monkeys producer) and Aaron Dressner of The National, Wilder Mind proves to be a marked change in style for Marcus Mumford & his lads; gone are the banjos & upright bass and in come in the electric guitars. At twelve tracks long, the record gave us fans a lot to consider while listening.
Change of Style and Sound
With Sigh No More and Babel coming in 2009 and 2012 respectively, Mumford & Sons brought about a folk revival while becoming one of the biggest bands in the world. Those two records, heavy on banjos and love tunes, sold around 7 million copies between them. With this formula, Marcus Mumford was expected to carry on churning out his own music gold. However, when the the first singles were released this is not what happened; electric guitars were soaring all over the place and the banjos were nowhere to be heard.
Wilder Mind proved to be the transition from folk music more of a stadium-rock/indie-rock sound. Channeling everyone from The Strokes to Springsteen and Tom Petty, the band made a major shift of style. There was still something for classic Mumford fans, the songwriting stayed very much the same with most songs slowly building in tempo until Marcus Mumford inevitably reaches climactic heights and last minute or so of each track.
How did this happen? In an interview with NME, Marcus Mumford discussed how he hated the band’s old image as well as calling the band’s name a ‘ballache’. As the waistcoasts were swapped for standard-issued indie leather jackets, new producers James Ford & Aaron Dressner added their own stamp of Americana to the band’s sound.
It’s interesting to discuss how people perceived this new record. Of 29 reviews, Metacritic’s average comes out at 5.4/10. Some reviews are glowing, such as The Telegraph or NME while others like from The Guardian and Pitchfork are much less flattering.
Great artists have made changes to their style before, Bowie, The Beatles or more recently the Arctic Monkeys to name a few; so this change from Mumford is welcomed in that sense. But some say that the move is the more calculated than that, by engaging in more of an ‘American’ stadium-rock sound, the band have definitely looked to appeal to the much larger U.S fanbase. Tracks like ‘Ditmas’ and ‘Tompkins Square Park’ are both direct references to New York.
Personally, I love the change of sound and the record. The motive behind the music is fairly irrelevant to me, it was a bold gamble and I’m glad it paid off for them.
It’s one of my favourite records, but if I only have to pick a few it would be these:
- Believe / Tompkins Square Park / Snake Eyes / Ditmas / Wilder Mind