I had assumed that this album was massive until an email sent around to some of my friends revealed that many of them had never even heard of the band. So I guess it’s massive in my own little world. Well that’s fine, I’ve always liked rougher folk music. And there are two or three songs on this album that absolutely deserve to be massive.
If you’re like my friends and you don’t know Mumford & Sons, this album is a kind of rocking folk album (lots of banjos and harmonies). But it’s less Fleet Foxes and more Waterboys–earnest folk with updates to the traditional sound. The disc opens kind of slowly with “Sigh No More.” It take about two minutes to get going (and for the banjo to kick in). In addition to the banjo (seriously, who knew a banjo could be so catchy?–well, bluegrass musicians, for one), the main selling point is main Mumford’s voice–it’s powerful, bellowing and quite emotive.
“The Cave” is the first indication that this album is going to be impressive. It starts out deceptively simple. Once you get to the second round of the bridge, “and I….” the song soars to the heavens in catchiness, (the singer’s enunciated vowels are weird and fun too). “Winter Winds” has a bit more Irish feel to it (Irish via The Pogues), but it also has the same kind of soaring qualities as “The Cave.”
“Roll Away the Stone” features the banjo heavily and is all the better for it. And “White Blank Page” really features the rough-hewn vocals that are the signature of Mumford & Sons. Never has the word “raaaaage” been so singable!
Some of the slower moments of the album kind of bog the disc down. Of course you couldn’t play everything at breakneck speed and still have your dynamic parts sound dynamic. So a song like “I Gave You All” opens slowly but it builds in power. The break is welcome (although quite a lot of songs start out slow and then get faster). But the chorus is outstanding.
The pinnacle of the album comes with “Little Lion Man” an amazingly catchy chorus (with a very bad word in it) and more raucous banjo playing. It’s almost impossible not to stomp your feet along. “Thistle & Weeds” is another slow builder–you can really hear the angst in his voice by the end. The end of the album is kind of a denouement. On my first few listens I didn’t care for the end of the disc so much but by now the album has so won me over that I can just enjoy this folkier ending.
In many ways there’s no major surprises on this disc–it’s rocking folk after all–except for just how damn catchy the band is.
[READ: February 22, 2012] “Corpse”
I wasn’t too keen on reading this story (one of the Walrus‘ longer stories) because of the title (and the accompanying picture of two boys with a deer in their sites). I didn’t think I would enjoy a hunting story. And yet, it started out so peaceful and zen that it sucked me right in.
It opens in a very female space. Maura and Angie are relaxing in Maura’s house. Well, Maura is doing yoga while Angie is relaxing. Maura is talking about the yoni, the great universal twat. Angie visualizes a massive latex vulva that she and her boyfriend Gordon enter. After a few moments, Angie and Maura look at each other and start cracking up.
The female space is penetrated by Malcom, Maura’s 13-year-old son, carrying the beginnings of a bow and arrow. He wants to know what’s so funny. They pass of a few lame jokes which he doesn’t fall for until Angie comes up with a really funny one. One that is especially funny in the printed delivery, in which you’re not entirely sure that joke is being told (a nice trick!). So I won’t spoil it here.
Malcolm informs them that he is just going to shoot his arrows at cans with his friend Andrew. But in fact they have bigger plans. A deer has been spotted in the local dog park (they live in the city so the deer are a rarity). After laughing at the joke, he runs off with Andrew to go hunting. (more…)