Whenever a band announces they are releasing a new album, fans respond with excitement that is half anticipation, half fear. These emotions were at their peak when Mumford and Sons announced Wilder Mind, their first new album since 2012. Since their last release, Babel, there had been doubt on whether or not there would be another album. Bassist Ted Dwayne had become very ill and the band took an indefinite hiatus. Needless to say, it was a very welcome surprise to hear of the new album. Like with every other band that has created great records,a new album poses the question; can they do it again? Unlike every other band, this new record is even more terrifying to fans because the band is completely dropping their acoustic instruments. For a band that has built their fame on banjos, beards, and upright basses, it is shocking to hear that Wilder Mind will be completely electric. As an avid fan myself, I shared these fears. Until, of course, I bought the album Tuesday.
There is no denying the drastic differences between Wilder Mind and their previous albums, Babel and Sigh No More. It is entirely electric, where before it was acoustic, but the changes in instrumentation do not take away from the fact that Mumford and Sons continues to create excellent music. The tracks on Wilder Mind follow a typical Mumford-theme. The majority of them begin slowly and then build up as the song goes on, with a loud and harmonized chorus, while finishing on the slow-pace of the beginning. Only this time, the rise of the songs becomes more intense with the aid of drums. A major strength of the album is its ability to have space within the songs. It no longer has the sound of folk music, but a spacious sound, like that of Led Zeppelin or the Killers.
To those who have not yet heard the album and are fearful of the change, I’d say that much of the music still holds the soul that we first heard in Sigh No More. The lyrics are equally as powerful and address the same themes of love and personal struggle. Although the album is electric, the musicianship is as evident as it ever was. It did not suddenly turn into a DJ pressing buttons, as I fearfully anticipated, but excellent music with electric guitars and keyboards. It seems to me that this is the fear of rock and roll fans today. When we hear electric, we fear the worst. We imagine overly manufactured and processed sounds that lose the heart of the music that we once fell in love with. Wilder Mind reminds us that this does not always have to be the case.