The Listener

They. Cannot. Write. Songs: Mumford & Sons reviewed

24 November 2018

9:00 AM

24 November 2018

9:00 AM

Grade: D+

I promise you this isn’t simply class loathing. Yer toffs have contributed to British rock and pop and it hasn’t all been unspeakably vile. There were moments when Kevin Ayers held our interest, for example, and even Radiohead. And then there’s that man of the people, Joe Strummer. So let’s excuse Mumford & Sons their weighty class baggage and just concentrate on the music, which is irredeemably awful and makes Coldplay sound like the MC5.


Someone has given them beats, cute little digital beats, to set beneath the faux folk which once irritated and now just bores one into a stupor. There is also that thing beloved by people who cannot write songs — atmospherics: ominous cymbals, metronomic piano, an overwash of organ and sonorous synths. None of this can disguise the fact that there isn’t even a half decent tune anywhere on the album. You wait and wait as the songs file by, lachrymose monotone meanderings, and think — hey, maybe they’ll give us an interesting chorus, full of bombast and stupidity, for sure, but something we might cling to for a few precious seconds of our rapidly dwindling lives.

Nope, not a chance. They. Cannot. Write. Songs. And in place of melodies you get portentous noodling, epic silences, pomposity, and lyrics with all the profundity of a Garth Crooks interview with someone who almost scored a goal in a football match. At times it is almost funny. But not quite. It just misses being so bad it’s good. It’s U2 without the hook lines, or the, er, raunch. It’s landfill chest-beating folktronica prog. It’s grim and terrible on every possible level. Please go away.

Subscribe to The Spectator Australia today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Subscribe – Try a month free


Show comments
Close