26 May 2010

jamming: Mumford and Sons- Sigh No More

Of this raucously honest debut offering from Britain's Marcus Mumford & Co., one UK reviewer remarks:
"What's missing here, apart from an antidotal dose of Dawkinism, is a modicum of self-restraint. Sigh No More is so earnest it weeps holy water, from theatrical drum rolls to jiggedy banjo riffs to trumpeting fanfares that are too bloody obvious to swallow. Pomp and pop are common bedfellows — but with Jesus squeezed between them, three's too many for your average proverbial duvet."

To say I disagree might be both too simple and too mild.

Mumford and gang's consecrated tears flood the record with the gorgeous fusion of transparent self-criticism and burly assurance that the Avetts have long patented. If England doesn't know what to do with this sort of thing, we'll take their export in this case.

From the opening Sigh No More to the closer (perhaps the strongest track on the album) After the Storm, the album breathes hope, transparency, and surprise (see Roll Away Your Stone). The odd thing about this hope is that it is indeed incarnated in "jiggity banjo riffs and trumpeting fanfares." Perhaps more complicated and possibly unpalatable to some audiences is that this hope also manifests within the desperation of a string of self-flagelating F-bombs in Little Lion Man. It is only in the recognition of this despair and the accompanying realization that to come out of such a "Cave" might actually require walking on one's hands in order to see how things actually are and need to be.

In this way this disc is brilliant and disorienting. Perhaps the final brilliance comes from the fact that we are left re-oriented. Pointed towards something or at least shown glimpses at the joy and peace and grace available.

"Lend me your hand and we'll conquer them all
But lend me your heart and I'll just let you fall
Lend me your eyes I can change what you see
But your soul you must keep, totally free"
-Awake My Soul

1 comment:

Ethan said...

I couldn't agree more. This album is incredible, and if the Brits can't see that, well that's fine. Just means more for us.