Mumford & Sons ''Wilder Mind''

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Disillusioned audience members booed Bob Dylan in 1965 for swapping his acoustic guitar for an electric one. It is hard to imagine fans of Mumford & Sons doing the same 50 years on. The lines between folk and rock have long since blurred and the English quartet are the most recent example of a band effectively occupying some of the fertile space in-between. They may have risen to fame in 2009 playing banjos, yet their surging, singalong anthems always had more in common with the epic rock of Coldplay than bluegrass. Nevertheless, the decision to go electric for their third album effectively sacrifices what might be considered their USP, putting them in a much more crowded field.

But the switch is a triumph, as if the band have slipped out of woolly sheepskin overcoats to reveal the leather jackets and canine glint lurking beneath all along. Wilder Mind has all the songwriting power to satisfy committed fans but with a sharper edge and darker undercurrents that might entice sceptics.

An industrial pulse and chug of rhythm pushes songs along, with echoing guitars and ghostly synths woven into a shimmering, shifting backdrop to Marcus Mumford’s rich vocals. The frontman has never sounded better – he has learned the value of restraint, finding all kinds of shades and nuance in low, intimate, close-to-the-mic singing that makes the explosive roar of big notes all the more effective.

Mumford and Sons Lineup:

Marcus Mumford – vocals, guitar, drums, mandolin

Ben Lovett – vocals, keys, accordion, drums

Country Winston Marshall – vocals, banjo, dobro

Ted Dwane – vocals, string bass, drums, guitar

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