Mumford & Son, the work’s never done

The Mumfords are another group I first encountered on the telly: this time, rather than the effete, stylised androgyny of Hurts I was confronted by a gaggle of what appeared to be extras from an ITV Thomas Hardy adaptation, all grandad shirts and waistcoats, romping around in haystacks in the wind. Hairy men they were, with mouths opened a bit too wide. But visual aesthetics aside, it was the music that made me stop and pay attention.

There’s a few bands that sound a bit like Mumford & Sons, a few precedents in the overwraught, frantic thrashing vein of Arcade Fire, say. But there’s a tautness to Mumford & Sons, a restraint that’s lacking in many more successful bands. And though Marcus Mumford lets it rip from time to time (hence the need for the wide open mouth I suppose), it’s never with total abandon, rather (I like to think) a very English sense of emotional reserve. Same with the forceful male harmonising, the hard-plucked banjos and the like: it’s kept with control, even when it’s most raging. Good on them, I don’t rate the sixth-form stylings of The XX at all and I was hoping the Mumfords would get the Mercury.

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