Mumford & Sons release serviceable album

By Peter Zemeske

On Mumford & Sons latest record, “Delta,” the band trades thumping arena rock for experimental indie rock. “Delta,” released Nov. 16, follows Mumford & Sons 2015 release, “Wilder Mind.” The band took a somewhat unexpected turn in direction from their signature folk rock to modern sounding alternative rock in vein of Coldplay and U2. The album was met with mixed reviews, some saying the change in sound was a misstep in the band’s career. Change in sound and direction isn’t always unwelcome, but in Mumford & Sons case, it was. The album  tried to sound epic and grandiose, but ultimately fell flat and was more hollow and bland. “Delta” takes another step in a different direction, a more purposeful direction than its predecessor.

“Delta’s” lead single, “Guiding Light” opens with a soft synth pad and acoustic guitar, a hint Mumford & Sons have returned to their folksy roots. Upon listening further, a clean electric guitar with delay proves their vision is different than that of their last musical statement.

The lyrics deal with having much at stake when the pressure is high, presumably referring to the pressure on an artist. Marcus Mumford’s powerful voice almost always is the main focus in their songs, but he subdues himself throughout the record. On the Middle Eastern inspired song “Woman,” Mumford’s voice is hidden under the layers of mandolin, piano and drums.

Another standout for the band is “Darkness Visible,” which features a spoken recitation of John Milton’s epic poem “Paradise Lost” amidst atonal violins. The distorted guitars and driving drums on the track are the most drastic change in Mumford & Sons arsenal of sounds and instruments.