MUMFORD & SONS
BOTTOM LINE A muted, meaningful meditation on change and its results
Mumford & Sons arrived in a hard-charging, boot-stomping, banjo-riffic flurry that upended notions of rock, country and folk.
But if the British band’s multiplatinum 2009 debut “Sigh No More” was a bracing, cold-shower shock, its fourth album “Delta” (Glassnote) is essentially a soothing warm bath.
Though the first single “Guiding Light” comes closest to the rousing, full-band style that put the Mumfords on the musical map, it still feels restrained, building to a climax that never quite materializes. The lovely “Picture You” seems actually more representative of the band’s current state, with its finger-snap percussion and rumbling basslines backing Marcus Mumford’s croon — a thoughtful, pop-leaning love song that producer Paul Epworth could have crafted with his superstar collaborator Adele. The way it fades into the spoken-word piece “Darkness Visible” shows how much the band has grown in its artistry.
However, using that growth to roll out pretty, muted moments like “Woman” or “If I Say” seems like a missed opportunity. These simple, stylish songs would serve as a great contrast to bigger, broader statements, but, for now, Mumford & Sons seem content to cataloging smaller, emotional changes on “Delta.”