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Published on January 28th, 2019 | by voxx

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Mumford & Sons – Delta

The former banjo-botherers continue their journey to pastures new on a lengthy fourth LP…

Landing somewhere between The War On Drugs and Simple Minds, 2015’s Wilder Mind saw Mumford & Sons chuck out the banjos-and-waistcoats shtick that had proved so successful on their first two albums for a new, but blandly faceless direction.

Rather than being a sharp about-turn back to first principles, their fourth goes further down that road, broadening the horizon to take in a sweep of electronic textures and sonic ticks. While it’s not exactly Kid A – with its all-twinkling piano and perilously-close-to-The-Edge muted guitar plinking, lead-off single ‘Guiding Light’ is a fairly barefaced move on the ground occupied by U2 and Coldplay. It’s those subtler and more unexpected additions that prove most satisfying here.

‘Woman’ could be the work of alt-J or one-time contemporaries The Maccabees, a drift of delicate arpeggios and ghostly falsettos moving over a warm electronic pulse, while ‘The Wild’ begins like a pre-breakthrough Elbow before gradually building to a crescendo that suggests at least one member of the band is familiar with the work of Vangelis. A Mumford & Sons album for people who don’t really like Mumford & Sons, perhaps, but Delta reveals layers few would have thought they had.

Often though, these moments of interest get flattened by a wave of arena-ready bombast. Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better and Marcus Mumford is a singer who can struggle to get past the first eight bars without accelerating straight to the neck-bulging shouty bit. Coupled with its hour-long running time, it can make Delta’s foray into new territory a rather exhausting listen.

- By Jake White


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