It honors Mumford & Sons not to be handing out photocopies of ‘Babel’ ad nauseam. That second album of the band sold 6 million copies and opened the doors of folk madness by countries, from the Peruvians We the Lion to the Spanish La MODA, but the group wanted to switch to the electric in ‘Wilder Mind’ and now it is back to offer something different on ‘Delta’, the album they release this week. We are facing an album that could only be released in the fall, long, to listen quietly under a blanket and thinking a lot about your loved ones. In fact, if ‘Forever’ – perhaps not the best song of the group, but one of the most memorable – does not seem like a Christmas carol, it is only because of its strange mention of “women devoted to secret lives.”
‘Delta’ is posed as a homecoming in several ways. It is an album in which the group talks about what it is like to face your home after a tour, in what they have called the theme of “the four D’s”: divorce, drugs, depression and death (“death” in English). Thus, for example, ‘Beloved’ is dedicated to a deceased grandfather and ‘October Skies’ recreates the sensation of pain “because your silhouette has left once more.” In addition, Mumford & Sons have rediscovered their folk roots in what is an intimate and acoustic album. Of course, it is acoustic from a different prism. With the production of Paul Epworth they wanted to give their songs an experimental air that was even open to playing with “hip-hop and jazz.”
We already told you that the approaches to those genres are very timid, but the truth is that ‘Picture You’ does have a decided R&B rhythm created by a delicate snap of the fingers and, significantly, ‘Woman’ stands as one of the best songs of the group thanks also to its sensual rhythm. Sometimes they remind a little of Bon Iver, as in the slightly robotized ’42’ and others to those Coldplay who played at being electronic and subtle for 5 minutes, specifically those that lasted their collaboration with Jon Hopkins, ‘Midnight’. Something noticeable at the beginning of ‘The Wild’, a song that begins with a delicate piano and then grows and adds string instruments and something similar to a military march.
The trick of adding arrangements at the end also appears on many other tracks, such as the second single ‘If I Say’, which adds strings in the neater vein of Damien Rice, or the strident ‘Darkness Visible’, living proof of that on this album Mumford & Sons have gotten too close to alt-J. They had already remembered these in ‘Rose of Sharon’ with Maggie Rogers as a guest artist, but it is that in ‘Darkness Visible’ a little bit of their pretentiousness has stuck to them as well: we attended nothing less than a reading of ‘Paradise Lost’ by John Milton, voiced by Gill Landry from the Old Crow Medicine Show, bringing to the present this 1667 work filled with flames, undying pain and crying for lost happiness.
‘Delta’ closes with the title track, another cut that grows as a metaphor for the arrival of the river to the sea, a catharsis for the band after all their doubts, personal and artistic. An album that is gradually revealing some potential, but in which they have not gotten to take full advantage of the fact that they have had up to 25 compositions to choose from, discarding almost half; nor to the 100 people who have gone through the sessions. It gives the impression that they could have rounded off the good ideas they have had a bit better.
The best: ‘Woman’, ‘Picture You’, ‘Forever’, ‘If I Say’.
You will like it if you like: alt-J, los Coldplay de ‘Ghost Stories’, James Vincent McMorrow
Listen to it: Spotify