Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More

27Jan10
There is a reason why artists release albums. They’re not just a collection of songs, randomly strung together. They’re one unified thought. An aural representation of the time. They’re meant to be consumed in one sitting. Digested. Mulled over. Discussed. They are an experience, not a product. And today’s single serving, 99-cent iTunes download, YouTube video with no video, pay-for-play radio is ruining that experience.
This is why albums like Mumford & Sons’ Sigh No More should be cherished. Truly an album’s album, Sigh No More takes you through the journey that is love. They begin with the title track, Sigh No More, that proclaims, “Love will not betray, dismay or enslave you. It will set you free.” And from there, they delve into the darkest depths of exquisite pain, anger and helplessness that it can bring. They speak of love, of longing and of loss, climaxing with I Gave You All, a powerful, lamenting song that aims to “force from the world a patient smile.” Honest, vulnerable and inviting, the album fully immerses you. Forty-eight and a half minutes later, you emerge from their world satisfied and hopeful, yearning for more and desperately wanting to do it again.
The album moves effortlessly from delicate, minimalist reflection in places to powerful, anthemic pleas in others. Yet despite this sonic diversity, there is a cohesion to the album–staying true to their folksy, countryish roots throughout. The music is almost cinematic, communicating a broad spectrum of emotion from love to regret to rebirth.
Not to be outdone by their musical prowess, Mumford & Sons are as equally adept with the pen as with their instruments. They are one of the most lyrically polished bands I’ve heard in a long time. Sigh No More is full of lines, like the one above, sure to be Facebook quotes for a long time to come. Incredibly vocally talented, their harmonies evoke hints of Fleet Foxes or Local Natives. Their narrative song structure is very Decemberists in style, all while adding their unique flavor.
Not quite a concept album, Sigh No More is an experience. It is a headphones-and-bottle-of-wine record. It is addictive and cathartic. It is why they make albums.
Final Grade: A-
White Blank Page
I Gave You All
Awake My Soul
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